Friday, November 17, 2006

Thanksgiving and Me

As many of you know, I’m not a native of The Americas. I actually came from The Island. I moved to Michigan when I was 5-years-old, around December of 1988. My mother, brother, and I never celebrated a Thanksgiving. Luckily, my dad had actually spent a couple years in Ohio in his youth because my grandfather completed his grad studies at The Crappy Ohio State University, so he most likely celebrated a Thanksgiving or two. I’m fairly certain he introduced us to this great American tradition.

Basically, I’ve never had any close connection to Thanksgiving. I drew cornucopias and pilgrims in grade school just because the teachers told us to do it, and I always did what my teachers told me. Not surprisingly, this is also the reason I received good grades and had no friends.

We would make Native American headdresses out of construction paper and macaroni jewelry in school. Looking back, this was hugely insulting. If you were a Native American, how would you feel if a bunch of white kids (who stole your land) and a sprinkling of other minorities made crappy mock-ups of accessories that you hold very sacred? And to top it all off, they did it to celebrate a holiday to commemorate how you and them became “friends” and “gave thanks.”

Speaking of giving thanks, I always hated Thanksgiving movies where families would give thanks. These movies have a family or group of friends that somehow get into some ridiculous argument and nobody is talking. Then, everyone makes up in time for Thanksgiving dinner because they realize how lucky they are to have each other. To make it really heart-warming, they hold hands in prayer and go around in a circle saying something about how thankful they are for something really cheesy.

My question with that giving thanks scene is, “Does that really happen?” I’m serious. If anyone can shed light on this subject, I’d like to know if this is just a Hollywood creation or if American families really do this. Please, please let me know.

I remember in 3rd grade, we baked some “homemade” corn bread. The teachers said it was homemade, but I bet it came from a box. How are 100 3rd graders supposed to make homemade corn bread? Also, I was a bit confused about corn bread. It looked like a muffin, but didn’t taste like a muffin. And it was called bread, but didn’t quite taste like bread. It was weird, but tasty.

The term “homemade” was one of those things that baffled me as a child. Kids would come to school and brag about their “homemade” cookies. I never got what was so good about “homemade” stuff. Sure, they were good; but I was, and still am, quite satisfied with a bag of Chips Ahoy. I can easily finish a bag in 4 hours and feel good about myself. I think the reason I was confused about “homemade” is because Filipinos never bake anything. We buy Chips Ahoy if we want cookies. (Back in the day it was only Original or Chewy; I praise the heavens for all the Chunky varieties.) I also don’t ever recall seeing anyone eat a muffin as a child. In fact, when I was there for my 4 month advertising stint, I didn’t see anyone eat a muffin.

Normally, a family friend will have a Thanksgiving party and everyone will come over. No one wanted to take on the task of hosting a minimum of 20 people this year, so my mom is cooking. She called me this past Sunday to ask if I wanted turkey. I gave a resounding, “NO!”

I definitely said, “I don’t want turkey or any of that crap. Just make a whole bunch of Filipino food and give me some rice.”

She just started laughing and said, “Oh my God! You’re brother said the exact same thing.”

I said, “Yeah. We don’t want that crap. We’re only home once in awhile, and we want something tasty. I need rice.”

To summarize my ramblings, cornbread confused the hell out of me, I still don’t know if people actually do the “give thanks” ritual, Native Americans should be up in arms over the celebration of Thanksgiving, and I love rice. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday because I get to eat a lot of food. I hope you all eat as well as I will on Thursday.

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