The Daily Tar Heel

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Monday January 24th

Talking Turkey About the Real Thanksgiving

A few weeks back I discovered Thanksgiving was a ruse. While researching a philosophy paper -- you know those papers that no ordinary human will ever ace -- lo and behold, I stumbled upon something useful: the Thanksgiving Day Proclamation. As it turns out, there were no Pilgrims with buckle shoes chatting up Indians in loin cloths over a meal of wild game and corn. There wasn't even a Squanto.

It's all a cornucopia of lies.

Turns out that what we've come to know and love as the third Thursday of every November is nothing more than a decree promulgated by President George Washington. Ironically, a day after passing the religious clauses (to refresh your memory, that'd be the Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause) President Washington issued his Thanksgiving Day Proclamation: "I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be."

With that, the original George W. went on to refer to "His" six times (note the capital H), "His providence" once, and "Lord and Ruler of Nations" once in his declaration. All he forgot were the five Hail Marys and one Amen. Turns out the founding fathers were trying to recreate the a Christian day of rejoicing much like the days of Solomon's Temple in Jerusalem. Unfortunately, the old white men forgot that Solomon was a Jew.

This discovery left me bewildered -- how American is Thanksgiving if all the brainwashed fairy tales we learned in elementary school weren't true? What about the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade, the football marathons, the pumpkin pie -- what happens to our dear, commercialized traditions if the entire day is based on a hoax?

In order to get my bearings and figure out what this turkey festival is all about, I asked a few people for their thoughts on the holiday.

My former professor asserted, rather cynically, that Thanksgiving for a college student is the last time we'll ever have it so easy. "Holidays are for kids," she said. "Enjoy them while you're still not in the real world." After stressing over in-laws and in-laws of in-laws she explained that us college kids don't have to face any of those downers.

There's no deciding which family to eat with, where to travel, when to take off work -- it is just so simple to go home and eat, nap, lay on the floor and watch television.

"Thanksgiving is when you eat too much and you're like, 'ugh,'" a friend told me in class. "It's such a pain in the ass," she continued. "The family bickering, the food preparation, the grandparents staying in your bed." I'm certain that my friend is a bit jaded by the holiday, being that she's a vegetarian and Tofurkey hasn't caught on in her house yet. But she made an awesome point: Thanksgiving isn't a vacation, not with all the work that's ultimately due on Monday.

So our generation was raised on Thanksgiving pageants and the aromas of sweet potato casserole; now we're college students with a four-day vacation brought down by family tidings and class work with a shady future to look forward to.

Add to that the fact that the holiday is a myth perpetuated by our founding fathers that destroys every piece of Thanksgiving trivia we ever learned from age 5. And it coincides with the biggest shopping day of the year, the busiest traveling day, the beginning of exams and the end of college football. This holiday is starting to sound as alluring as the nine different versions of turkey leftovers we eat for weeks.

So what is there to enjoy about this traditional gathering of family and friends? I'm convinced that even though Thanksgiving is based on a hoax and brings with it annoying holiday habits, we all have our little optimistic idiosyncrasies tying us to this holiday season. For me, Thanksgiving has something to do with the impromptu football games in the neighborhood, the piles of golden yellow leaves and my nanny's homemade stuffing. And that makes up for all the leftovers and tiresome relatives.

Rachel Hockfield is counting down the days to Thanksgiving Break, it starts Monday, right? Send pumpkin pie recipes to rachel@email.unc.edu.

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