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Kate McCabe / Gavel Media

Diatribe: Thanksgiving or Thankstaking? You Decide.

The Gavel's Diatribe acts as the satirical medium for short rants over topics ranging from complete triviality to utmost importance.

Ah, Thanksgiving. Whether you regard it as a carefree day of feasting or the most pointless holiday of the year, it means a lot of things to a lot of people. It’s the first break in the academic year, a chance for college students to travel hours home to their families for just long enough to feel like they haven’t actually had a break at all. It’s a day of mourning for Native Americans, who get to watch a violently bloody piece of their history get rewritten into a family-friendly, grossly whitewashed narrative characterized primarily by the three F’s: friendship, food, and feathers (see: cultural appropriation). It’s a day free from societal obligations to gather round with your entire extended family and eat roasted turkeys that are always a little too dry, get a little too wine drunk, and ultimately find yourselves a little too deep into the Forbidden Dinner Table Political Discussion. 

Thanksgiving is a distinctly American holiday, and not only because it’s celebrated in the United States. More than any other, it’s the only holiday that really and truly accurately represents the core values of America: colonialism (covering up that aforementioned colonialism with a cute little story that absolves us of blame) and acute overindulgence in both eating and spending money. 

I believe that the only reason why turkey continues to reign supreme as the kingpin of staple Thanksgiving meals everywhere is because it contains tryptophan, an amino acid that, in part, triggers drowsiness. These turkey-induced naps are vital, providing the fuel we require to rise from the couch to go to Macy’s after dinner because we are wholly incapable of dedicating a full 24 hours to being grateful (it’s excessive, anyways, 18 hours certainly suffices). This whiplash dichotomy is ironic if not staggeringly disheartening: the blessings and thanks we send up to the heavens for what we already have are forgotten and rendered entirely obsolete as we battle to the death for a deeply-discounted 70-inch flatscreen TV on arguably the most random Friday of the year. 

In fact, Black Friday sales have become so overwhelming that one day is no longer enough to contain the frenzy—consumerism has expanded it into an admittedly less-catchy Black Two Weeks. The sales and steals often begin before Thanksgiving even has the chance to make us feel guilty about how ungrateful we are for the things we have. Giving thanks? Here’s what we’re thankful for: Unlimited lines of credit; coffee for giving us the strength to stay up all night in lines outside department stores; sneakers that let us stylishly and comfortably jostle others for another pair of equally stylish and comfortable sneakers; and the workers whose smiles are still bright during hour nine of what looks like a quiet, lovely 14-hour minimum-wage shift. 

It feels awful upon reflection, yet also entirely on brand with the American way: the concepts of conquest and accumulation that our country was predicated upon suspiciously mirror the values we champion and celebrate on Thanksgiving each year. Thanksgiving? Not to play semantics, but a better word to generalize the fourth Thursday in November, perhaps, would be Thankstaking. After all, it would be way too insensitive, of course, to commit to a holiday of wholesome merit without giving the people at least something to gain. 

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Amateur Bachelor critic, professional bruncher. 6’4 if it matters.