Wednesday, November 22, 2006
First of all, the weed eaters have to go. I mean, who does that on the day before Thanksgiving? It's late November. There ARE no weeds. But we have a mechanical symphony going in stereo -- our neighbors on both sides have decided to vaporize those weeds right into the dirt.
I used to attend a Native American observance of Thanksgiving in Plymouth, Massachusetts. Turkey Day is a day of mourning for those who were so royally screwed by the Mayflower riders and their descendants. The pilgrims stole their land, killed as many of them as they could, and imprisoned the rest on reservations.
Indian reservations have the worst schools and medical care in the country, as well as the highest suicide rate. Alcoholism is rampant, which shouldn't surprise anyone considering their entire way of life was destroyed. And then they were "honored" by the dominant culture naming streets in housing developments for them, and wearing turquoise jewelry.
My brother and I once argued about this. His position was that the Indians didn't leave any lasting monuments and deserved to lose their land so it could be improved. Mine was that they slipped through the world without stamping their brand on it. They did no harm but left it as they found it and therefore deserved to remain in charge. This will never be resolved because Native Americans have no political power. A surprising number of people do not even know they still exist, but believe they have gone their way like the buffalo herds that sustained so many of them.
I think this disagreement between members of the same family represents two world views that are diametrically opposed and can probably not be reconciled. Either one is for Indians or one is against them. The rest is what my daughter used to call "excusifying."
Indians from many tribes gathered on a hill overlooking Plymouth Harbor, eloquent speeches were given, and then a few men would walk downhill and piss on Plymouth Rock, which until recently, was surrounded only by a metal chain. (They've since built a mausoleum around it which looks like an ancient Greek ruin in very good condition.) Plymouth Rock should be called Plymouth Pebble; it isn't as large as its fabled presence. But then, all fables are Bunyonesque. Paul, himself, was probably about as tall as Tom Cruise.
After the speeches, everyone would gather in a local church and feast on dishes prepared by women of many tribes. It was wonderful. I was honored to be there, but then, unlike our culture which delights in excluding people, Native American culture is INclusive. Everyone of good will is welcome and judged for himself, regardless of his ethnicity. (Which, of course, is what got them into trouble in the first place.) There is so much we could and should learn from these highly evolved people, but we settle for appropriating their exotic names and discard the rest as irrelevant to our technologically advanced society.
I always prepared the traditional Thanksgiving meal on Sunday so my family wouldn't miss out on chestnut stuffing and pumpkin pie with homemade whipped cream dotted with bits of crystallized ginger.
I don't know any Native Americans in California, so we're having Thanksgiving again. It's a great meal. I love doing it. Of course, any meal shared with loved ones is a celebration, so while I'll always love Pocahontas, tomorrow is about family and food for me.
Happy day to all of you! Eat, drink, and especially, be merry.