gobble gobble gobble GOBBLE

Today a bagillion people in America are celebrating a holiday called Thanksgiving.  I imagine that most of you are familiar with the custom.  Family gatherings, heaps of food, turkey, weird combinations of sweet potatoes and marshmallows, and pie are all key elements.  It’s a good time (I like family and I like food), but it is an incredibly fucked up holiday.  See above graphic (which by the way, I pilfered from facebook and haven’t a fucking clue who to credit to…so if this is your picture, let me know so I can write in big capital letters what a frickin genius you are).

In American schools they teach you that Thanksgiving is this happy-go-lucky holiday that started when the settlers (cough colonizers) and the native Americans had a big happy feast and became bffs for ever and ever and ever and ever, sunshine and kittens and lollipops for everyone!  But OH WAIT.  Didn’t the same settlers actually then spend the next hundred years SLAUGHTERING those people and/or making their lives miserable and ignoring every treaty ever made with them?  Hmmm.  Something just doesn’t add up here.  I think this Adams family video says it quite nicely:

For me the holiday has become a time to remember all the fucked up shit that went down to make America what it is today. It is a day to remember the true stories behind the historical myths we tell each other. And it is a day to eat a lot of damn fine food. This year I’ll be celebrating on Sunday with a group of lovely ladies who I like the think of as the Anarchist Expat Ladies Club.

Hanging on Thanksgiving’s coat tails is a tradition come holiday that is equally, perhaps more, sickening: Black Friday, the day when the Christmas shopping season officially kicks off. Because retailers just can’t get enough of the profits that a day of shoppers foaming at the mouth and beating each other off with sticks over the day’s sales produce, they are doing a kick off on Thursday, right in the middle of Thanksgiving feasts everywhere. Which means that the one decent part of Thanksgiving (spending time with your family) is getting beaten back with a cash register.

I think that Lindy West said it best on Jezebel: “Long, long ago, in a time known as the ’80s, Black Friday sales started on a day called ‘Friday,’ at an actual hour that an actual store might actually have been open—say, 8 or 9 or 10 am. Over the years, the kick-off hours have been slowly rolling back—to 3 am, 4 am, midnight. And this year, stores such as Target, Walmart, and Toys R Us plan to start their Black Friday sales at 7 or 8 pm on Thursday, smack in the middle of the Thanksgiving dinner hour. Because fuck your turkey, MEN’S POLAR FLEECE MOCK-TURTLE HALF-ZIPS ARE 60% OFF. Get ready for Black Friday Part Deux: Black Thursday: The Legend of Curly’s Pulverized Ribcage. I am not following any of this. Can someone explain it to me, slowly and using small, nonthreatening words? Please?

“Now that Black Friday isn’t even on Friday anymore—now that it’s Black Thursday Night and Black Fuck Your Thanksgiving and Black Ha Ha Pitiful Wal Mart Slaves You Have No Family!—what is the point of it, really? I mean, hey, I have an idea! Why not just start Black Friday 2013 on the day after Black Friday 2012 and we’ll call it Black The -Entire-Year and everyone will get so many savings that Santa Claus will rise from the dead and do everyone’s taxes!!!!! Thanks, capitalism!”  Her entire commentary on the subject is priceless, so go read the entire article post haste.

Walmart workers are striking and protests are being organized (a favorite is to go to a store and walk around slowly in circles with an empty shopping cart, best case scenario, in a really big group, congo-line style, in order to disrupt the shopping hell, oops, I mean extravaganza).  I would say that I was protesting the event with a buy nothing day, but I buy nothing all the time, so it doesn’t feel like a spectacular statement.  Are you protesting Thanksgiving or Black Friday in some way?

0 Comments on “gobble gobble gobble GOBBLE

  1. for several years i refused to celebrate thanksgiving, for the reasons you outline here: i used to think i could convince my core group of family and friends that we should use this instead as a day to atone for a genocide our ancestors committed and from which we are obviously still benefiting today. eventually i got tired of trying to convince people who could never be convinced, and tired of the hurt and the guilt trips. now i just go see my parents and we have dinner together. black friday, now, that’s another story. i think it is the sickest most apocalypse-inviting thing there is. tomorrow i’ll be joining occupy detroit for an action at a wal-mart store, the details of which have yet to be released because wal-mart will retaliate against the workers if it’s made public. check out the UFCW’s international campaign to organize wal-mart and hold them accountable for retaliating against workers who protest their violations of federal employment law.

  2. Yes, I’ve contributed $ to support a striking Walmart worker (see: https://www.wepay.com/donations/dont-let-walmart-silence-workers-support-worker-leaders-who-are-calling-for-change). I rarely buy anything retail. We’ve become dedicated thrifters by choice, not necessity.
    Have you checked out Occupy Wall Street’s latest focus–buying medical debt for cents on the dollar and cancelling it? See http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/11/21/1163900/-Rolling-Jubilee-Hits-8-000-000-in-Medical-Debt-to-be-Retired-Uncollected
    As for the uber-consumption holiday(s), my family stopped all giving except for children decades ago and cut back on that. My gift to my kid this year is a plane ticket, period. Otherwise, we make a gift now and then or buy second-hand and give to those we love when/if we feel inspired to do so, not on a designated guilt-inducing Hallmark holiday. Bah, humbug forever! (btw, I feel regret but not personal guilt for US genocide; my forebears were chased across Europe and Russia by pogroms, conscription, and Hitler.)

  3. Yes, we are participating in Black Friday in the best way I know how: we’re headed up to Portland to take a bunch of plastics to Farwest for recycling. Then to Bread and Ink Cafe for waffles and coffee and then home. Done.

  4. I suppose I’m protesting in the same “doesn’t feel like protesting because I always do it” sort of way. No shopping and no eating turkey. I read yesterday that 46 million turkeys are slaughtered per year, just in Minnesota. Won’t go into a factory farming tirade here, but ick.

    On a happier note, I’m making pureed sweet potatoes with coconut milk, maple syrup and candied pecans right now. And plan to hit a neighborhood dive with a friend after family dinner tonight, perfect sequence of events!

  5. Paula: I like it, a Black Friday full of getting rid of stuff. Though you’re talking about recycling it is making me think that next year I should make the day about cleaning stuff out and getting rid of lots of stuff, and having it be the start of a shopping fast until Christmas. New tradition!

    irishberliner: Glad I could help. And glad you got the CCG version and not the happy happy Native Americans and the Settlers were friends lalala.

    FVM: Those sweet potatoes sound excellent! Mmmmm. Today I’m baking our pies in advance. I can’t wait for the feast.

  6. I love your sentiment on this Nikki! Hoo-fucking-rah!!!

    I don’t have anything to add, I’d just like to give you a big high-five for hitting the nail on the head so completely.

    Oh and that film is one of my favourite films ever. I used to idolise Wednesday Addams when I was a kid. Awesome!

  7. On Black Friday I tried to sell my stuff! Ha. It felt really weird trying to take advantage of the hype to get people to buy my stuff online. But in general the weekend has been spent making piles of stuff to get rid of. The trick being to now get rid of it and not leave it sitting in the middle of the floor…

  8. Protesting…hell yeah! No black Thursday or black Friday shopping, or Saturday, Sunday or cyber Monday shopping. Ha! There will be some holiday gifts…mostly handmade or gleaned from thrift stores.

  9. I’m here on a biking holiday on Gran Canaria. There is a huge advertisement everywhere for a MediaMarkt Black Friday sale that happened I guess last Friday.
    So here we have in an outpost of Spain a German retailer flogging its schlock on the theme of a latter-day American consumption orgy. People I asked her had no idea what it meant. One thought it was referring to some financial meltdown.

  10. RR: Well then hoorah! Glad to hear it. 🙂

    Fishie: And? Did sales go nuts? I can’t quite imagine Black Friday being translatable to an online medium. Though I suppose that is what the whole “Cyber Monday” bullshit is supposed to be about. Crazy.

    Joyce: Hurray! Sounds good to me.

    Ian: Ha! I love that people thought it was referring to financial meltdown. What a good way to spend that time of year. Hope the trip was awesome.

  11. We celebrate Thanksgiving by making a meal with some of the more interesting, time consuming dishes we don’t get to make on a regular basis, like seitan and various pies. Every year is a bit different…sometimes we hang out and play board games, maybe sit outside around our firepit, hoping we don’t burn things in the oven when the kitchen is all busy and fun.

    Friday…well, THATs Buy Nothing Day for us, although we will support a small local business if we need something immediate. We don’t go to the mall anyway, so it is kind of like every other day of the year, but we don’t get gas or buy kitty litter or whatever.

    This year I listened to the Battenkill Ramblers until my teenage son wanted to poke his eyes out from all the repetition. I thought it was an appropriate balance to all the black metal he makes me listen to on a daily basis. 😉

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