Do you know what I discovered about Americans recently? We need to shut our pie holes, if not for a year or two (preferred by the blogger), at least during the holidays. We just need to give our mouths a rest because the brains have clearly not caught up. That way we might learn to cultivate better conversations during our upcoming family holidays, or else there are going to be wars upon rumors of wars in our dining rooms across this great nation of ours.
A couple cases in point: Recently former Gov. Haley Barbour called President Barack Obama’s policies “tar babies” (pejorative term for African Americans and every southern white knows it).* When confronted on his racist slam (not the first time he’s stepped over this line), Mr. Barbour gave the obligatory apology in his best Mississippi drawl (“Well, if I’ve offended anyone . . .”). Then Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) was questioned about an incident that happened a year ago when he called members of the Tea Party “white crackers,” (pejorative term for whites and every black person knows it). When confronted on his horrid choice of words, clueless Rep. Rangel said: “I thought [cracker] was a term of endearment.”** (Yep, Charlie, just like the “N” word is a term of endearment to you and me.)
Google Image: Fighting Wallpaper
After angrily meditating on what these two knuckle-headed elected officials had vomited onto the public airways, I went to bed that night dreaming of what it would be like to live in a world where people talked pretty to each other all the time. As the night wore on, I dreamt that Congress passed a law that proposed a moratorium on foul speech until January 1, 2015. They said: “Given the vitriol that is coursing from sea to shining sea since the election of our first black president, we, your elected officials will come up with an approved list of bi-partisan, conversational recommendations that we could all engage in during the upcoming Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays in order to keep the peace and foster good will across the land.” I got so excited about this endeavor that in my dream I sent out my first tweet:
@blogger.com—looking for T-Day non-confrontational topics to send to Congress to help us act like civilized people #FowlConversations
But alas, alack, nobody was interested, and everybody ignored my request except the birds.
Used by permission: Nate Beeler, The Columbus Dispatch
In my dream, I got tweets galore from millions of turkeys but absolutely no humans. No human wanted to give up their right to free speech, but every turkey in the land (those still alive) wanted to suggest that Turkey Liberation be the topic sent to Congress. As the dream wore on, I entered a breakfast scene with my husband (WW), and we spoke about the almost Messianic vision of my quest for Turkey Liberation talking points.
ME: Babe, something amazing has happened. Nobody tweeted me back except birds—turkeys to be exact. I have millions of turkey tweets. #FowlConversations is trending. I’ve become a celebrity! The turkeys want me to champion them as a topic for Thanksgiving dinner conversation before Congress. I’m so honored.
WW: What? You don’t even like birds and I don’t think they like you. As a matter of fact, some of your funniest Lucille Ball antics have happened from the attacks of birds.
ME: You sir, are not telling the truth!
WW: Oh really now. Let’s see, there was the time the pigeon took a rather sizeable dump while in mid-air on your brand new wig as you walked across campus, and you spent the rest of the semester plotting his demise—can the Greek chorus sing “rat poison peanut butter balls”? Then there was the blue jay that used to attack you every day for six months while you were jogging until you were forced to change your route. Do you still have that homemade sling shot? Oh, and what about that giant turkey who chased you around Old Man Henry’s poultry shop when you were just four years old? If anybody has seen you tear into a turkey leg, they would easily surmise you were engaging in a vendetta against an old foe.
ME: Poppycock! I like birds better than snakes and that’s all my turkey fans need to know. Besides I’ve become a vegetarian since learning that I had “The Sugar.” I’m a perfect champion for the turkey cause.
WW: You are a vegetarian who eats a little fish, some chicken once a week, and attacks a rare rib-eye steak with the passion of a vampire when you can’t stand the sight of another bean. I’m not judging, I’m just saying that the turkeys could get a better rep. Besides, weren’t you trying to recruit human input? What happened?
ME: I got all kinds of responses from humans on my author website: death threats, trolls threatening to turn me into a garroted turkey, and others claiming that I was trying to squelch their free speech. Screw them. I’m going to help the less fortunate—The Birds! Did you know that it isn’t just turkeys that are eaten on T-day? No bird is safe from our American knives and forks and gluttony.
Peanuts by Charles Schulz/Universal Uclick
ME: The way I figure it, if we as Americans can’t discuss politics, religion, racial equality, gender equality, marriage equality, and women’s reproductive rights (to name a few) with our families without coming to blows then we still need a subject that has passion, pathos, intrigue, and human, I mean animal, interest. Do you know that the turkeys have tweeted me that as many as 46 million of them will be slaughtered this year to grace our Thanksgiving Day tables?
WW: Might I remind you, that you are a quasi-vegetarian and you ordered a turkey for T-Day—albeit free range—as soon as our frou-frou grocery store put out the list. Ergo, you are a hypocrite. May I also point out that people will not want to discuss Turkey Liberation of abused fowls while sucking the marrow out of a giant turkey leg dipped in giblet gravy? And Heaven forbid if you invite a real vegetarian to dinner, turkey shit will really hit the fan.
Used by permission: David Fitzsimmons, The Arizona Star
ME: Well, fine, Mr. Know-it-all. What’s your suggestion as a safe Thanksgiving dinner topic?
WW: Gratitude—everybody genuinely discussing what they love about each other and what they love about their lives. You and I are on our last lap around this rodeo. We don’t need to fight with any relative or non-relative about anything. And if our guests can’t abide by our rules of shutting their pie-holes when things could go postal at the dinner table than they need not attend. I actually don’t think we hang with people like that anymore—they have long since been weeded out of the Tomczyk guest list. We just need to discuss what we are grateful for in this moment and time and bask in the wonder and glory of it all. After all, we could all live in Nigeria. And then maybe to fall asleep from an overdose of tryptophan on the couch after a second piece of pumpkin pie with my grandson in my arms. Yeah, that would be Heaven.
Used by permission: David Fitzsimmons, The Arizona Star
I am discovering that staying away from topics that would anger and hurt each other may not be a discipline we can master as Americans. Let’s be honest with ourselves. We are a nation of people who ferociously guard our rights and opinions, and whoever screams the loudest considers themselves to be right on whatever the topic. Facts are of little value, but as my husband teaches his students: “passion does not equal being right.” Having a love-filled, laid-back, gracious Thanksgiving dinner—basking in each other’s presence—takes a lot of love, a lot of sacrifice, a lot of forgiveness, a lot of listening, and a lot of “letting go” of things that just don’t matter in the scheme of life. Wouldn’t it be great if we could discuss serious topics from different viewpoints and treat each other as we’d like to be treated?
Of course if having civil conversations can’t be done, I suppose Christmas shopping on Thanksgiving may not be a bad option if it keeps the peace (definite sarcasm).*** Or if push really comes to shove, some of you could sit around the Thanksgiving table and discuss Kim Kardashian’s bounteous bootie breaking the Internet as a trending topic—just so it doesn’t descend into a cacophonous argument and pistols drawn over the definition of who has the most bootylicious bottom, Kim Kardashian or Beyoncé (definitely, sarcasm . . . definitely).
Used by permission: John Cole, The Scranton Times Tribune
“I celebrated Thanksgiving in an old-fashioned way. I invited everyone in my neighborhood to my house, we had an enormous feast, and then I killed them and took their land.”—Jon Stewart
“I hate turkeys. If you stand in the meat section at the grocery store long enough, you start to get mad at turkeys. There’s turkey ham, turkey bologna, turkey pastrami. Someone needs to tell the turkey, ‘man, just be yourself.”—Mitch Hedberg
“After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one’s own relations.”― Oscar Wilde, A Woman of No Importance
“I like football. I find it’s an exciting strategic game. It’s a great way to avoid conversation with your family at Thanksgiving.”― Craig Ferguson
“Thanksgiving was nothing more than a pilgrim-created obstacle in the way of Christmas; a dead bird in the street that forced a brief detour.”― Augusten Burroughs, You Better Not Cry: Stories for Christmas
ONE OF MY FAVORITE T-DAY CARTOONS FROM MY 2013 T-DAY BLOG
Used by permission: Rick McKee, The Augusta Chronicle
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