I Hate Thanksgiving
Before explaining why I hate Thanksgiving, I want to apologize to my co-blogistas here on dotCommonweal for my non-posting since last May. Sometimes what one of my students called my “menial administrative duties” catch up with or even overwhelm me, stripping me of the capacity for sequential thought, let alone the concise expression needed for blogging. For most of this year i have been wrapped up in a capital campaign and working on the design for a new building for the law school where I am dean. My schedule looks a little brighter for the new year, so I will try to chip in here more often.
Now that the Thanksgiving holiday is almost over, I’m relieved. I truly hate Thanksgiving. I have no problem with giving thanks — it’s the least we can do, and we should do it more often — but I do have a problem with “Thanksgiving,” the holiday. It’s not the absurd commercialization, or even the embarassing orgy of consumerism on Black Friday or Black Saturday. (Is Sunday now “Black” as well?). Those are too-easy targets, and they don’t bug me in any kind of personal way. The inevitable family psychodrama doesn’t help, nor does the usual Thanksgiving fare — I’d rather eat a bowl of pasta, or anything Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Korean….you get the idea. But what really gets me is the prospect of four days of suspended animation doing essentially nothing. Something about my nature abhors a vacuum. Now, you may be losing interest and sympathy exactly at this point. After all, who wants to hear about another pathological, self-obsessed workaholic moan about having to take a break. But — and I mean this — I am not a workaholic — I alternate periods of great activity and indolence in unpredictable patterns. I don’t think the world needs me at my desk; it is perfectly capable of going to pieces with or without me. I’ve never been able to articulate precisely whyThanksgiving and, I must admit, most holidays (and even weekends) fill me with a quiet horror. Fortunately, a great writer has now done it. In Richard Ford’s new book, “The Lay of the Land,” his narrator Frank Bascombe (a 55-year old realtor with prostate cancer), is talking about an interesting day he has planned (watching the demolition of an old hotel in Asbury Park, NJ), but comments that: “Business itself, of course, is the very best at offering solid, life-structuring agendas, and business days are always better than wan weekends, and are hands-down better than gaping, ghostly holidays that Americans all claim to love — but I don’t since these days can turn long, dread-prone and worse.”
Precisely. You can’t do better than “wan” and “gaping,ghostly.”