Monday, November 30, 2009


Short of the mammoth "American Expat Desserts and Candy Eating Picnic in The Park" we went to a few weeks ago, we accidentally forgot about Thanksgiving. Of course we each gained about five pounds in just that one day, so it's probably good we didn't delve in any further than that.

This time last year, we were at Tom's brother's wedding in New York. The saucy brisket his new wife, Rachel, and her mother makes still haunts me. Ah, yum. We went to Avenue Q on Broadway and got to know her awesome family, who live on Long Island. It was also around that time that we were remodeling the house, taking medical exams for immigration, telling our families we were leaving and I was finishing finals for school. My hair started falling out exactly three months later. I had what was called Telogen Effluvium, which is delayed stress-related hair loss. Now, make no mistake, I love, love, loves me a bald person, but that was getting a little scary. I do not have Sinead Oconners delicate bone structure.

Anyway, back to the holiday talk.... Short of the overt gluttony, shouldn't every day be Thanksgiving? I know I'm extremely grateful for all the precious gifts in my life and I'd like to think I express it, at least occasionally. I don't necessary need pecan pie as part of this picture, though it's certainly a welcome smudge on my "I have a great life" dance uniform.

So let's talk a little about Thanksgiving here. As wee American pups we are told about the "Pilgrims" (people seeking asylum from religious persecution). I don't know if it's the Separatists or Puritans whom we are to empathize with, but I can't reconcile this part. Sure, they were religious fundamentalists that needed a place to set up shop, but does anyone know who exactly was being persecuted and by who? I don't get it.

There is some debate as to when and how the first European refugee + indigenous American eating extravaganza first was somewhere between 1619 to 1621. I think it's likely that the native Americans may have been a harvest celebration or two prior, but who knows...they were probably so busy getting crop harvests stowed away that they were too pooped to party.

Wampanoag accounts tell it like this: the tribe heard gunfire, thought the colonists may be preparing to attack, so their leader, Massasoit took about 90 of their men (no women or children) to investigate. When they realized it was actually a celebratory festival going on, the Wampanoag contributed venison and turkey.

Apparently the Wampanoag joined in an alliance with the settlers to defend them against other, less diplomatic, tribes. This after, themselves, nearly being wiped out over the previous six years by smallpox epidemics brought over by the English. The dinner conversation was probably more about the alliance and their defense strategies than anything.

Only three other countries celebrate Thanksgiving: Canada, the Netherlands and Granada. Granada's is less about eating or religious freedom - it celebrates what happened in 1983. Again, another political event where I wasn't there and I don't fully understand it. I know the United Nations vote was 122 votes for "We deeply deplore the armed intervention in's a flagrant violation of international law and the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of that state." to 9 ("Invade").

In grad school, they taught us that the UN is fairly limited in it's ability to make member countries abide by trade agreements or sign treaties or really do anything they don't want to do. I'm just trying to figure out why I keep stumbling over all these examples where the US went a different route than most everybody else.

Some of our best friends are English expats here. I'd really like to continue to mock their imperialism. It's fun! You guys don't think there's any way that could make me look hypocritical, do you?

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