Saturday, November 24, 2007

Giving Thanks (a gesture to the bird)

It would be banal to say that I hate the holidays, but truly I don't understand the fuss. If you like turkey, eat it. If you like eating it en masse, do it (but please try to keep the volume down). If you like shopping at Walmart at midnight, well, I really don't know where to begin. But why bottle up all this enthusiasm for one day out of the year--and go public in the process? I have always considered turkeys like roller coasters: something I encounter so seldom that I can always convince myself to try it again just to see if I haven't acquired a taste (and lost the impulse to throw up after). I am sorry to say that on each occasion-and here I concede to the Thanksgiving spirit by foregoing my ever tenuous restraint: I hate both. This year I had a decent meal at Savoy, peconic bays with porcini followed by quite a nice venison. But it bothers me that restaurants must trot out (please ignore the execrable pun) prix fixe menus and special seatings and compel a different sort of engagement from patrons, and basically function as surrogate families. The whole point of going out is to avoid subjugation to that condign institution. It also bothered me that my friends were tarted up for a 2:30 pm dinner as if they were going out to a nightclub. The point is to be as discreet as possible about this embarrassment of a nationally sanctioned group activity, isn't it?

One of my best Christmases was one I spent a few years ago at Palm Springs with a friend. I was living in LA at the time and confit'd spiny tail lobster and terrine'd fois gras and candied nuts for the three weeks prior and bought a case of rose champagne and we drove it all out to Casa Cody (I love Casa Cody but their cats are vicious) with the dog and sat around the pool eating and drinking and plucking the occasional lime or orange from the trees above. Next day we went to a spa for massages and scrubs and swims and had a flat tire but even that didn't dampen spirits. But sure as flooding follows a storm, I'll be on to Christmas soon so this is just to demonstrate that I'm not ideological about my disfavor and can just as readily enjoy the day called Thanksgiving or Christmas or whatever just as I can readily enjoy any other day off so long as I am compelled neither to profess nor respond in kind to sentiment.

But getting back to my complaint about Thanksgiving: on the more spiritual side of things (and after all, whom are we thanking?) I have to say that if you aren't grateful for food and shelter and mobility and a job or whatever assets you have on the other days of the year, I don't see how you are going to manufacture it on Thanksgiving nor why you should bother. Either you are grateful or you're not. If you think you should be more grateful than you are, then you should deal with that but surely it's a personal matter or something to take up with your therapist or priest or closest and most tolerant friends. But honestly, there's a reason why new year's resolutions (oh and we'll get to that day, too) are a joke. Nobody transforms over night, even on 31 December.

Anyway, I suppose I am entitled to a properly puritan sense of self satisfaction along with my thanksgiving satiety this year on at least 2 accounts: 1) a friend (who shall be nameless, not least because I fear this person may encounter this blog and recognize this person's self in the description) contributed to the Farm Animal Sanctuary in the name of my pet and 2) I didn't order the turkey option for my dinner thereby registering my disapproval of this year's turkey slaughter. If it's absolution enough for the president, well, by George, that's good enough for me.

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