Pass The Gravy

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Nov 21st, 2011
Mel
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Pass The Gravy
Every year, the fourth Thursday of November rings in the beginning of the holiday season in the United States, with the uniquely American celebration of “Thanksgiving.”
It is believed that the Pilgrims of Plymouth, Massachusetts, celebrated their first “Harvest Festival”, along with the Wampanoag, in 1621, and established a shared tradition of acceptance of one another’s cultures as well as the commonalities between the two groups of people. While similar festivals were held during the years, it was not until 1863, when Abraham Lincoln declared a national “Day of Thanksgiving”, that the holiday gained a yearly place on American calendars.

Of course, some individuals look at Thanksgiving with disdain, and claim that we should not celebrate a holiday associated with stealing the land that was occupied by the Native American Indians. I’m not sure that I fully understand why anyone would look down upon those who fled persecution and famine, and fought for their lives to survive in the hostile environment of a New England winter. The Pilgrims were almost obliterated during that first brutal year, and the members of the Wampanoag tribe came to their rescue. Why not celebrate that first attempt at blending cultures? After all, America is “The Melting Pot” of the world, isn’t it?

 

Of course, with the economy so bleak, and protests going on all over our vast nation, I do wonder if we have lost sight of the patriotic nature of Thanksgiving, and replaced it with the commercialism of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, a barrage of football games, and of course, the omnipotent shopper’s nightmare, “Black Friday”! Perhaps Langston Hughes had a point when he wrote “Let America Be America Again.” For me, this segment hits a nerve, especially with the current state of the mood of the 99% of us who are hurting this year.

 

        “The land that’s mine – the poor man’s, Indian’s,

Negro’s, ME –

Who made America,

Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,

Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,

Must bring back our mighty dream again.”

Because I have acquired several non-American friends during 2011, I decided to explain a bit about why we celebrate Thanksgiving, and also take a moment to express some of my own reasons for being grateful this year.

Thanksgiving is the one holiday of the American year that transcends race, creed and gender. It brings people together, and whether it is a meal shared by strangers, or a gathering of family members from across the land, the message is clear: “For this one day, may we live in peace and togetherness, and be thankful that we live in America.” In many communities, meals are served for the homeless, elderly, and those down on their luck. On this special American day, we come together and live as a community of equals. Any American who wants to partake in the festivities of Thanksgiving, will always find a place to gain food, shelter, and the company of others. In my eyes, this is really the basis on which America was built.

Yes, Americans have committed great atrocities to the Natives of this land, and yes, Americans continued a vial tradition of slavery in their haste to prosper. But, Americans have also opened the door to the world, as a haven of freedom for the oppressed. In 1883, Emma Lazarus composed a sonnet, “The New Colossus”, which was later engraved in Bronze, and mounted inside of The Statue of Liberty. Along with declaring Lady Liberty, the “Mother of Exiles”, the closing lines proclaim the true essence of what America had hoped to achieve:

 

“Give me your tired, your poor

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Call me a romantic, but I can’t help but feel good about being a first generation American when I read those lines. The freedom that the United States offered my relatives, allowed my father to come here as a young child, and take advantage of every opportunity he could, in a country that encouraged him to grow and prosper without fear of being killed because he was an Armenian. And, whether one loves Americans, or finds us distasteful, we still welcome people from all over the world to take refuge in our country. Imagine how thankful we would all be if we had to escape genocide or a great famine, and someone gave us a new place to call home.

It makes me believe that we all need to step back, start putting aside our differences, and make America the land of Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity it was intended to be. This seems almost futile in a time of greed and excess in our political and banking systems, but somehow, I think that we will see a positive outcome in the near future. Americans need to wake up and start taking care of one another again. If we can manage to donate billions of dollars in relief to Tsunami victims, we should be able to get our budgets balanced, and open up the doors of opportunity to ALL Americans.

Regardless of my country’s faults, I wouldn’t want to defect. I have had the opportunity to meet so many wonderful people from other countries, and while some of them are more open than others, they all seem to admit that the more Americans that they meet, the more they don’t understand why their countrymen hate us so much.

One of those people, Sj became a very close friend, and my blogging partner of “My Ink Project”. Sj has educated me on the ways of the “Brits”, and I have given her a strong dose of American culture. The diverse nature of our expansive country fascinates her, and has become the source of a plethora of writing ideas.

We started My Ink Project, as a way of celebrating every imaginable form of Ink, and to immerse ourselves in all of the creative arts. What we found is something that I am extremely thankful for: Freedom to Create. We established only one rule: PG-13.

Whenever we discuss potential posts, I find myself singing, “It’s my party and I’ll write what I want to.” Of course, Sj giggles and replies, “Exactly, hunny,” followed by her infectious giggling. Sj’s “dragonesque” demeanor makes her “afraid of nothing”, and while I may have gotten myself into a couple of gnarly situations while attempting to be more assertive with people, she has certainly helped me be less shy. Let’s just say that I am grateful for her support and encouragement as I write my first novel, and admire her tenacity and ability to survive on such little sleep.

We may be from different sides of “The Pond”, but we have discovered that even though we may appear to be “Polar Opposites”, we have far more in common than anyone would believe. So this year, when I make my Thanksgiving Declaration, I will not only toast the return of my eldest daughter’s health and my younger daughter’s quest towards college, I will give thanks to the amazing new friends I have made in 2011. And, while I adore you all, I have a very special place in my heart for a special “little bird” from the U.K.. For all you do Sj, this blog’s really for YOU!

Thank you for your loyal friendship and undying support for me and my family. You have introduced me to several wonderful people, listened to my crazy ideas, and shared a secret or two. It may not have been easy, and we still have some ups and downs, but good things don’t come easy. “My Ink Project” will soon celebrate its 1st Anniversary, and that is something we can both be thankful for. May you be blessed with everything wonderful!

To Sj, and to ALL of my family, faithful friends and readers, no matter where you live:

 HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!

Time To Cut The Turkey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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