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As CVS begins to sweep away the cobwebs from its window displays to make room for plastic Turkeys and cards that read, “Gobble gobble,” we are reminded that Thanksgiving is right around the corner. Thanksgiving is the least contentious American holiday. To participate in Turkey Day, you don’t have to believe that Jesus died for our sins or that the Maccabees lit a candle that flickered for eight whole nights. You don’t even have to have a boyfriend to buy you roses. Thanksgiving welcomes individuals from all backgrounds, classes, races, and faiths—in essence, it is democratic. You may wonder how anyone could possibly complain about such a wholesome, unifying holiday—a holiday that encourages you to indulge in candied yams, pecan pie, and maple glazed Brussel sprouts. 

Well, to answer that question, let’s begin with the travel. Many of you, about 50 million to be exact, travel at least 40 miles to get to your Thanksgiving meals.[1]You endure endless lines and delays to end up somewhere in Middle-America. When you finally get off of the plane, ears still ringing from the wailing baby in aisle 25, you are greeted by frigid temperatures and informed that your luggage has somehow been misplaced. If you feel wrath towards the gods that have chosen to spite you, you are not alone. In fact, twice the number of people lose their luggage during the holidays than during the rest of the year.[2]Nevertheless, despite the frost bites forming on your hands and the discovery that your favorite shirt has arrived in China, you naively cling to the hope that the day ahead will make it all worth it.

Throughout the last Thursday of November, you will mostly stay planted on the couch. Twenty-two million of you will tune into the Macy’s Day Parade and 30 million will indulge in good old fashioned American football. My sister will spend the day curled up next to my grandma as they giggle and compare which floats they like best. My cousins who were raised as die-hard Bears fans, will shout and high five my uncles as they all chat in sports lingo that is foreign to me. Statistically, you too will sit in place all day, transfixed by balloons floating down the street and men tackling one another.[3]That is, unless you are the host. In that case, your day will consist of slaving away to appeal to your slothful guests. Sweat will drip from your forehead as you stuff and truss your bird, while simultaneously keeping an eye on the three different types of pie in the oven. You will feel envious of your guests, whose greatest burden while you work yourself to exhaustion is having to get up to switch the channel. 

At around 4:30, it will become clear that those who have fasted in preparation for dinner have reached a point of critically low blood sugar and lower patience. Family members will start to tap their feet and check their watches until the unlucky host presents the finished products of a day’s labor. At last, it is time for the holiday’s main event, the Thanksgiving feast.

At the heart of most people’s pro-Thanksgiving stance is the delicious spread. Yet, let’s turn our attention to Thanksgiving’s mascot, its emblem, the star of the supper— the turkey. Forty-five million turkeys die each year so that you can smile through the pain as you chew through mouthfuls of dry meat.[4]Turkey is so bland that most of the meal’s classic items are designed to give it some semblance of flavor—the stuffing, the cranberry sauce, the gravy, etc. Even as quality remains stagnant, the price of turkeys mysteriously continues to rise. There has been a 46% increase in the price over the last decade.[5]My question is: if we were going to fabricate a history in which Native Americans and colonists coincided peacefully enough to dine together, why didn’t we at least deceive ourselves into believing that they bonded over a McDonald’s Happy Meal? That way we wouldn’t be stuck with a week’s worth of turkey sandwich leftovers or be peer pressured into suffering through the endless supply of white and dark meat.

If you’re confused about how dry turkey, cold weather, and endless airport lines could lead to this much hatred for a holiday, I don’t blame you. Perhaps I’m being a little harsh on Thanksgiving. My goal for this coming Thursday is to pack an extra stuffed carry on for when my luggage gets lost, invest in a pair of ear warmers, and bring a couple of cliff bars in case the meat is extra dry. That way, I can focus on the family I love that has come together – the only part of the holiday that I am truly thankful for. 

 

[1]AAA: 48.7 Million Americans to Travel This Thanksgiving.” AAA NewsRoom, 15 Nov. 2016, newsroom.aaa.com/2016/11/aaa-48-7-million-americans-travel-thanksgiving/.

[2]CBS/AP. “How to avoid losing airline luggage this Thanksgiving.” CBS News. November 25, 2015. Accessed November 13, 2017.

[3] “Millions Of Revelers Marvel Over Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade”.CBS Broadcasting Inc. November 24, 2016. Retrieved March 30, 2017.

[4]“Turkeys Used for Food.” PETA.

[5]Geewax, Marilyn. “The Economics Of Thanksgiving 2014.” NPR, NPR, 24 Nov. 2014.

Emma Gray

Yale '21

My name is Emma Gray and I am the President and Campus Correspondent for Yale's Her Campus chapter. I am a Sophomore in Saybrook and I am planning on majoring in European History. I am passionate about universal health education and about criminal justice reform. In my free time I love going to the Yale Center for British Art and watching The Office. I am excited to start working with our new team!
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