November 23, 2017

"Isn't Thanksgiving more deserving of a naysayer? I mean, really, we eat dinner every day."

"Is it that for Thanksgiving--as opposed to Christmas--you are only asked to give thanks, not presents? To give thanks and eat dinner. But you must give thanks and eat dinner in a way that outdoes the thanks-giving and dinner-eating of other days. I do think there should be a Scrooge/Grinch analog. The Thankswithholder. The Ingrate."

That's what I said on this blog's first Thanksgiving, which I'm reading this morning as I scan old posts under the "Thanksgiving" tag, looking for something to say about Thanksgiving. I want to acknowledge the special day, but I prefer normal days. As I said in 2014, on the topic of refraining from doing Thanksgiving (because your family members have other plans, which had been portrayed in the NYT as a virtuous letting-go):
I love when doing nothing — especially when it avoids a lot of effort — amounts to the higher path. Virtue in not acting. That applies to a lot more than Thanksgiving. As for Thanksgiving, I always appreciated it when my sons' father wanted them over. Thanksgiving is the last weekend of the semester, and there follows a lovely, long winter break. Thanksgiving is precisely the weekend when I am not looking for more of a workload. So I was glad to step back and let the ex-husband have the boys over. If I got extra points — kindness credit — for letting go, that was nice, but I was always openly grateful for the relief. I was glad to do nothing. It's Thanksgiving, and as they say — and I truly mean it: Thanks for nothing!
The second Thanksgiving on this blog introduced a character, the Thanksgiving squirrel: "Find some critter to eat." He was back the following year — "Oh, my! There he is! It's the Thanksgiving Squirrel! Keep safe everyone. Boil your meat well" — but then I forgot about him... until just now. Ah! Just think of all the things we've forgotten. No, you can't. You've forgotten. Unless you've got notes somewhere, like the archive of a 13-year-old blog, replete with tags. But if you're like me and you love the negative space of life and you see the joyful meaning of "Thanks for nothing!," then you can be thankful for all the things you've forgotten.

ADDED: In the stories with a Christmas naysayer, the narrative arc is toward yea-saying. The Scrooge/Grinch of Thanksgiving would find the true (i.e., conventional) meaning of Thanksgiving, in its most essential form.

So he'd begin with remarks like mine: It's just dinner. We have dinner every day.

And in the end, it would be...

He HADN'T stopped Thanksgiving from coming! IT CAME!
Somehow or other, it came just the same!
And the Gurkey, with his gurkey-feet ice-cold in the snow,
Stood puzzling and puzzling: "How could it be so?"
"It came with out stuffing! It came without pie!"
"It came without cranberries, and I don't know why!"
And he puzzled 3 hours, till his puzzler was sore.
Then the Gurkey thought of something he hadn't before!
"Maybe Thanksgiving," he thought, "is not about food."
"Maybe Thanksgiving... is more of a mood!"

52 comments:

John Christopher said...

I remember Thanksgiving in 2004 and I'm sure I read that post and whatever was on kausfiles. The internet then was something you stepped away from Real Life to consume.

Original Mike said...

I would be very thankful for nothing today. Instead, I have to go up on the roof and clean out the gutters. I hope nothing happens.

Owen said...

Your meditation on nothing is, as always, something; and something special. Thanks for making a space lit by your thoughts, and for letting others spar, play, prod, prove, doubt, affirm.

Not a negative space at all.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Expat(ish) said...

This year we and our misty adult children went to Paris instead. Not a turkey in sight.

After 20+ years of Herculean effort at this time of year ... a blessing.

Gobble gobble y'all.

-XC

Shane said...

Thanksgiving is "Ferris Mueller's Day Off"!
Unless, he finds some collusion between the turkey Trump pardoned and the Russians...

"Mueller? ...Mueller? ...Mueller?"

Original Mike said...

Is it possible for nothing to happen? Or, being nothing, does it not happen, instead?

Michael K said...

Here is my ten year old post about Thanksgiving on my own blog.

It was more about getting to Tucson than eating but it was an adventure.

We are enjoying our peace today, No guests or kids.

rehajm said...

Nothing is something.

rehajm said...

If there’s a large group for dinner try the fox squirrel. They’re larger.

Dave Begley said...

Thanks for Althouse's blogging. Today's Tom Wolfe is a sharp and witty observer of our crazy modern world.

mockturtle said...

Wishing Ann and Meade and all of you a most blessed Thanksgiving.

Quayle said...

Happy Thanksgiving from Boston to all Annthousians (or is it ...to an Althousian?)

(It can’t be ... all Althousians. That doesn’t sound right.)

Yes, I am grateful to forget - grateful that some memories fade. A sign of learning and developing, I hope.

Darrell said...

A happy everyday thanksgiving to all!

traditionalguy said...

Thanksgiving for our life is as American as it gets. When our ancestors survived the winter of 1622 ( well half of them) and when the next summer's drought was broken at the last minute to save the corn harvest, then declaring a Public Feast for giving thanks to God and to the friendly Indians was on their minds.

We copy William Bradford's guys because it is a public feast and a Sabbath Rest rolled into one. It is the one time every one is invited and attends without waiting on the next funeral to get together.

Laslo Spatula said...

Socially Awkward Guy Who Makes No Eye Contact says:

It's Thanksgiving, which means the Girl with the Blue Hair won't be working at McDonalds today, which sucks. My mom is going over to her boyfriend's place later to cook him turkey; she invited me to come along, but I think I'd rather be awkward alone than awkward at my mom's boyfriend's place: the guy is a creep. And he always asks me if I finally got a girlfriend: sure, yeah, that's why I washed my hair last week...

So I'm just going to stay home and watch guys pee on girls on the internet. At one of the sites they have viewers rate the videos, and I find it sad: they always give the highest ratings to the ones where the girls look like they don't want to be peed on...

I would hate to pee on a girl who didn't want to be peed on. I like the videos where she is smiling, and her eyes are closed so she doesn't get pee in them: they shouldn't have to get conjunctivitis, that isn't fun...

I had pinkeye when I was younger. The doctor said I needed to start washing my hands after using the bathroom. I didn't know you were supposed to wash your hands, no one told me that. So now I wash my hands...

There is a girl in one of the pee videos who has blue hair, so of course she reminds me of the Girl with the Blue Hair who works at McDonalds. She doesn't have a name listed, so I couldn't look her up to find other videos of her getting peed on. Then it dawned on me: I Googled 'blue hair girl piss videos' and I found several of them. Duh...

I wonder if the girls who get peed on in the videos are home with their familes for Thanksgiving. It would be cool to be one of them's boyfriends, and be sitting next to her, eating turkey and nodding while everyone else talked...

Like no one else thinks these things.

I am Laslo.

wildswan said...

Most holidays are not holidays for women; they are showtime. A successful seasonal family holiday takes work and planning, mostly done by women. Women on holidays are like the producers of a show everyone enjoys and has fun at. The producers, the women, may like the show, too, but what they like is not that it was so relaxing for them personally but that their plans worked. 1. No one fought over Trump. These days it is all known in advance - where everyone stands and what must be avoided and who WILL avoid and who WILL NOT, and who needs to be separated and who needs to be talked down. 2. The turkey came to the table done and on time, the dietary arrangements for vegans were enjoyed, the children didn't cry - much, the adults didn't get (very) drunk and the group was able to be thankful they were together. Whew.

Women call it a vacation or holiday when they lie on a beach or visit Tuscany in a way so arranged that they do no planning or work for a few days and still have fun.

Laslo Spatula said...

I posted a 'Girl at Starbucks That Hates You' Thanksgiving in the previous Cafe.

That one was tasteful.

I am Laslo.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

I am thankful for NOT having a big Thanksgiving this year. No travel. Just cooking for the two of us** and nothing much out of the ordinary for dinner. No family drama. We can have peace and quiet. Take an afternoon nap if we want without having to justify it to other people. NOT have the television on and be forced to watch football (gag).

The big plans are to get to work on burning some of the gargantuan piles of orchard limb trimmings. It will take the tractor and backhoe attachment to separate the pile into smaller piles so that the smoke won't be seen from space. We will sit on some lawn chairs and sip on scotch while contributing to our CO2 footprint and get warm by the fire.

**Dinner: Glazed ham (and not that horrible spiral cut thing). Roasted butternut squash, onions, red potatoes tossed in garlic, olive oil and rosemary. Creamed cheesy broccoli. Tossed salad with blue cheese dressing. Home made coconut cream pie. Ham with a big gnarly bone in order to make soup later on in the week. Maybe great northern ham bean with fresh cornbread. Nomm.

For a real true thankful thought....We both are also very thankful that I didn't die in the auto accident last month that totaled my Chevy Blazer. It was really close. You don't realize how beautiful and fragile life is and how good you have it until it is almost yanked away.

Ann Althouse said...

"I would be very thankful for nothing today. Instead, I have to go up on the roof and clean out the gutters. I hope nothing happens."

Yikes. Those last 4 words are ambiguous. One day (unless there's an afterlife), nothing will happen to you. Don't hope for it to be today.

Laslo Spatula said...

Looking at Althouse posts from last Thanksgiving, I see I did a "Sketchy Guy Who Works at the Adult Bookstore" comment there.

It must be the Holiday Cheer.

I am Laslo.

Ann Althouse said...

Negative space only exists when there are some positive things too. Without the positive, there's just no space at all. The absence of things can only be appreciated in relation to things that do exist in your life.

mockturtle said...

Tradguy writes: Thanksgiving for our life is as American as it gets. When our ancestors survived the winter of 1622 ( well half of them) and when the next summer's drought was broken at the last minute to save the corn harvest, then declaring a Public Feast for giving thanks to God and to the friendly Indians was on their minds.

Who were your Mayflower ancestors? Mine were John Howland, his wife-to-be Elizabeth Tilley and her parents John and [I think] Mary Tilley. Maybe we're distant cousins. :-)

Ann Althouse said...

"Happy Thanksgiving from Boston to all Annthousians (or is it ...to an Althousian?) (It can’t be ... all Althousians. That doesn’t sound right.)"

You could try endings that go with "house" like "-keepers" or "-mates."

Sebastian said...

Better than nothing is a high standard.

At my house, we reach it every Thanksgiving.

Hope you will, too.

Khesanh 0802 said...

Our oven is on the fritz so I am going to grill/smoke the bird. Looking forward to it.

I hope all here, whose comments I enjoy, have a wonderful day .... and special thanks to Ann for her consistently entertaining and enlightening efforts.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Negative space only exists when there are some positive things too. Without the positive, there's just no space at all. The absence of things can only be appreciated in relation to things that do exist in your life.

Truly words to live by.

Original Mike said...

"One day (unless there's an afterlife), nothing will happen to you. Don't hope for it to be today."

What's that old saying? Please, Lord, let me go to heaven. Just don't let it be today.

mockturtle said...

DBQ reports: I am thankful for NOT having a big Thanksgiving this year. No travel. Just cooking for the two of us

Me, too! Just the two of us--me and my dog, Bucky. ;-) Will prepare Cornish hen, etc. Back in WA the family is gathering at the home of my granddaughter, Hannah, who at 23 is already a superior hostess. I wish them well but glad I'm not there. Loving the peace and quiet and the beautiful weather here in AZ.

Original Mike said...

Negative space is a very important concept in bonsai.

Original Mike said...

"You could try endings that go with "house" like "-keepers" or "-mates.""

Althouse-mates would be very Aussie.

Mr. Majestyk said...

"Isn't Thanksgiving more deserving of a naysayer?"

NO!

Rt1 Rebel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hagar said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hagar said...

A long time ago I visited a ranch in Nebraska at Thanksgiving and the women were running themselves ragged cooking and serving up more food. I suggested that this wasn't right, and why don't you sit down a rest for a while; the guys can take care of themselves.
And the lady of the house exclaimed: "No, no! We have to keep feeding them or they will think up some kind of trouble!"

Rt1 Rebel said...

Everyone is trying to get to the bar
The name of the bar, the bar is called heaven
The band in heaven, they play my favourite song
Play it one more time, play it all night long
Heaven, heaven is a place, a place where nothing, nothing ever happens
Heaven, heaven is a place, a place where nothing, nothing ever happens
There is a party, everyone is there
Everyone will leave at exactly the same time
When this party's over, it will start again
It will not be any different, it will be exactly the same
Heaven, heaven is a place, a place where nothing, nothing ever happens
When this kiss is over it will start again
It will not be any different, it will be exactly the same
It's hard to imagine that nothing at all could be so exciting, could be this much fun
Heaven, heaven is a place, a place where nothing, nothing ever happens
Heaven, heaven is a place, a place where nothing, nothing ever happens

Chris N said...

Happy Thanksgiving, Althousians!

There’s much to be thankful for, incudling family, friends, peace and good food.

EDH said...

But if you're like me and you love the negative space of life and you see the joyful meaning of "Thanks for nothing!," then you can be thankful for all the things you've forgotten.

"Well, tanks for nuthin'!"

"Shouldn't that be a good thing, telling somebody, 'No thanks required'?"

Tank said...

Thanksgiving advice from the lady with no senses of smell or taste LOL.

For an appropriate video this Thanksgiving, it's: Here.

Happy Thanksgiving to Althouse with thanks for all the great reads.

Unknown said...

Happy Thanksgiving to all! My dinner will be shared with family, lots of them, at my daughter’s home. All I had to bring was the bread, so I baked three boules, one cheddar roasted garlic, one rosemary olive oil Parmesan and one butternut squash. They’re so pretty it’s almost a shame to eat them. There will be some political talk, no doubt, and unless things change this year we’ll all go home liking and loving each other as much as we did the day before.

tcrosse said...

You could try endings that go with "house" like "-keepers" or "-mates."

Althousers ?

Unknown said...

Alt-housemice, nah. Alt-houseflies, nope. Oh well, I tried.

tcrosse said...

High of 78 today, so it's spatchcocked turkey on the grill.

Big Mike said...

Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the first National Day of Thanksgiving in 1863, following the fall of Vicksburg (“The great father of waters goes again unvexed to the sea”) and the near-simultaneous defeat of the hitherto invincible Bobby Lee. Still ahead were bloody battles lifting the seige of Chattanooga, the fight for Atlanta, the Wilderness, Spottsylvania, Cold Harbor, and Petersburg, it Lincoln was correct that a corner had been turned.

Ann Althouse said...

Don't miss my post update, with my new character, the Gurkey.

southcentralpa said...

Two Boston Brahmin manques are trying to one-up each other.
"So, did your people come over on the Mayflower?"
"Don't be absurd. My people sent their servants on ahead on the Mayflower to get things ready, and they came over on the Fortune..."

Achilles said...

Used to hate holidays because people stopped answering their phones and nothing got done. Now it isn’t so bad because at least they stop calling me. Still managed to delay a closing by a week though. And this signals the end of the year for getting anything through the regulatory systems.

My wife works today. Projects are still due at the end of the week. At least we have hotpot tonight.

Merry thanksgiving people.

Quayle said...

I’m thinking that this trip I shouldn’t leave Boston without finally getting a pair of breaker pants in Nantucket red or lobster pink. Only problem is whether to get the ones with the little blue whales or the little blue lobsters or the little blue sale boats.

Any suggestions?

tcrosse said...

Was Gurkey a Gurkha ?

eddie willers said...

High of 78 today, so it's spatchcocked turkey on the grill.

I saw that last week on Bob's Burgers and thought they made it up.

Sebastian said...

Mark Bauerlein: "But it takes only one Trumper to turn a genial dinner into an emotional contest of wills . . . Everything runs smoothly until I say, “Didn't you love Trump’s speech in Warsaw? Isn’t it great to have a leader willing to praise Western civilization?” That does it. The communal spell is broken. I’ve ruined Thanksgiving."

Any reports of the reverse-- progs ruining a Trumpers' dinner and turning it into a contest of wills?

Hypothesis: the ratio of Trumper-among-progs to prog-among-Trumpers Thanksgiving ruination is more than 100 to 1.

Explanation: 1. politics is part of prog identity in the way it isn't for cons; dissent therefore is an attack on self as much as an ideological challenge 2. prog identity depends on a communal spell, therefore dissent is more dangerous; 3. progs value winning more than manners; cons value manners more than winning; 4. Trumpers are deplorable; nuff said.

Fabi said...

Buy an assortment, Quayle -- you won't regret it!

Mac McConnell said...

Quayle
If you want the real deal you will have to stop by Murray's Toggery Shop in Nantucket for
"Breton Red" / Nantucket Red trousers.