Before the Fox News network gets the chance to gin up hysterical indignation for its patented annual protest against the "war on Christmas," I would like to address a more pressing issue, one that needs immediate attention — and that's the war on Thanksgiving.
The war began two years ago, when our Muslim president gave a three-minute Thanksgiving speech without mentioning the word "God." He did mention that "Love your neighbor" stuff and said "God bless you" at the end of the speech, but where were the biblical references? Enraged religious conservatives took to the airways and social media to rail against the secularization of our sacred commemoration of the marriage between Myles Standish and Sacajawea by the shores of Gitche Gummee, after which they threw a party that made Plymouth rock.
The director of the website Christian Newswire wrote, "Thanksgiving [is] the one American holiday originating within Christian culture. God's providence was demonstrated when the Pilgrims discarded socialism after a year of absolute failure and embraced capitalism. Redefining Thanksgiving as anything other than a call to give thanks to the one true and living God is an attempt to remove God from America's one true Christian holiday." He liked the adjective "true" a lot.
After the president's Godless address, he went outside to the Rose Garden and pardoned a fat Thanksgiving turkey. Who is Obama to interfere with our nation's annual turkey genocide? And if turkeys start getting pardons, what's to keep them from seeking revenge? We need tryptophan to combat the onslaught of annoying relatives' endless questions about what we've been up to. It serves as a natural sedative and combats the desire to tell them to go and perform impossible anatomical contortions. Ben Franklin claimed a preference for the turkey as our national bird, and I'm certain that old Poor Richard never sat down to a Thanksgiving dinner of bald eagle. In fact, Franklin invented the phrase "Let's talk turkey."
This year, Obama's past failure to mention God by name, accompanied by Christian Newswire's declaration that capitalism is holy, has emboldened Thanksgiving Day Parade sponsor, Macy's, to break with its 155-year tradition of closing on Thanksgiving. They used to give their employees the day off, because someone had to blow up all those balloons, but the only miracle on 34th Street this year will be an accident-free parade. They now will have fewer employees on the street to make sure a wayward balloon doesn't hit a light pole and fracture someone's skull. Now that Macy's has thrown down the gauntlet, can Dillard's be far behind? And if capitalism is next to godliness, what becomes of cleanliness? Has the lust for consumer goods caused us to lose the desire to clean ourselves?
Commercialism is destroying our faith-based custom of devouring oversized meals before attending after-dinner worship services that feature the age-old morality play of Cowboys versus Redskins. And speaking of Native Americans, or Indians, as they called them back in the puritanical days, I wonder how they celebrate Thanksgiving? It's been a few years now since that first shindig when the Pilgrims had the Wampanoag over for Thanksgiving supper. Unfortunately, that was the last act of kindness by the new settlers toward the indigenous population. Why shouldn't Native Americans still be sore at the sons of English refugees? They gave us maize, weaving techniques, and planting advice, and we gave them syphilis, whiskey, and smallpox. Still, isn't it time to squash the grudge?
This year, the Judeo-Christian day of Thanksgiving is threatened by encroaching Judaism. For the first time in over 100 years, the first night of Hanukkah, or Chanuka, falls on the same day as Thanksgiving. Personally, I never could get excited over a holiday where there's a discrepancy over how to spell it, but Hanukkah is a celebration of the Jewish victory over the Greeks in 165 BCE, when Judah and his merry band of Maccabees arranged Olympic-style games for Jewish athletes and the Olympic flame burned for eight nights. I'm being facetious, of course. The eight-day celebration is in reference to the Beatles' song, "Eight Days a Week," because some ultra-Reform Jews believe that the Lord created the earth and the heavens in seven days rather than six, and on the eighth day, He created the Beatles.
This cosmic convergence has even been given a name, "Thanksgivukkah," which was created and trademarked by a Jewish mother from New England named Dana Gitell, who has also snatched up the Twitter handle, created a Facebook page, and started selling T-shirts. Boston mayor Tom Menino has proclaimed November 28th "Thanksgivukkah" in the traditionally Irish-Catholic city, saying, "This is a once-in-a-lifetime event. It's a day to celebrate the diversity of our city and the spirit of working together to make Boston a better place." What kind of heretic is he? Just because the event won't repeat for another 79,043 years, is that any reason to sacrifice our traditional values on the altar of political correctness and declare the day "special"?
Let's return the religious connotations to Thanksgiving. Then we can put the "cai" back in Chanuka. However, if you don't say "Happy Thanksgiving" to me, I won't answer you. None of this "Merry Turkey Day" or "Happy Gobble Day," and if we don't nip this "Thanksgivukkah" business in the bud, the next thing you know, the Jews will be trying to claim Jesus, and we'll all be lighting turkey-shaped menorahs. In fact, a 9-year-old boy has patented a turkey-shaped menorah called a "Menurkey." At my house, we will still be having our traditional holiday meal of barbecue turkey and chopped liver with fried latkes served over cheese grits — and for dessert, small, mesh bags of chocolate coins. Then we'll make burnt offerings to Hanuman, the monkey god, and pray for an end to the sequester just as the founders intended. Until then, happy pre-holidays to all y'all. Now let's discuss this war on Halloween.
Randy Haspel writes the "Born-Again Hippies" blog, where a version of this column first appeared.