I can think of nothing worse than spending a whole day eating and drinking in the company of in-laws and relatives. I mean, just the thought of having my relations, and those of any of my ex-wives, (my present wife’s parents are no longer with us) in the same room, is reminiscent of a day in Hades with the Borgias and Genoveses.
Yet, this is something Americans do every year, and they at least pretend to enjoy it. “Relations” are considered sacrosanct to such an extent that at times the US appears like a nation of families Gambino.
Which begs the question: do they really enjoy it, or is it just an old tradition turned into something expected?
My guess is the latter.
Here in the mid-West, or the Heartlands, or the flatlands, or the asshole of the US, it’s a tradition probably better tolerated than elsewhere. After all, central Illinois is the epitome of that place where life originated for the sole purpose of eating. Within a radius of five hundred miles there’s absolutely nothing else to get out of bed for. Unless, one includes shopping, but that’s usually just a means to procure even greater amounts of sustenance.
On any Saturday afternoon between May and September, the air is thick with the odor of roasting flesh intermingled with the caustic fumes of burnt fat incinerated over countless barbecues. Even the ten thousand tonnes of poisonous pollution pumped into the atmosphere by ADM and Staley Sugar, pale into insignificance alongside the ritual weekly cow-cook that is the raison d’etre of most Illinois residents.
Consider the irony of a local law that forbids camp-fires on one’s own property – “it may cause an allergy alert or spark an asthma epidemic” (I kid you not!) – yet happily ignores the pollutants from two major, unregulated, industrial giants and the barbecue output from fifty thousand homes.
This evening, as the Thanksgiving holiday draws to a close, my wife and I give thanks for the wonder of isolation. We spent our vegetarian Thanksgiving with the best company to be found on the planet – each other. No animal was injured or killed in the making of our meal. No pollutants were released into the atmosphere, and our relatives enjoyed the occasion, or not, in the company of other relatives – well away from us.
We hope your Thanksgiving was as delightful, peaceful, free of argument and screaming kids, and as full of love and joy, as ours.
Filed under: Happy Holidays