Thursday, November 8, 2007

Thanksgiving's Coming Up

I love Thanksgiving.

The idea of taking one day out and stepping back and saying, "heya God, thanks!" is really appealing to me. Plus I love all the trappings of the holiday...the joyfully unhealthy food, the men gathered around the football game, the long weekend, Macy's parade, the bad turkey jokes, the family squabbling, the pageantry, the it love it love it. Love everything about it.

Growing up in NY, I used to go to Manhattan on the Wednesday night before with my friends, to watch the parade balloons being blown up also got us out of the house so our Moms could cook in peace. Later on, I used to do that with dates. No matter how warmly we were dressed, it was always freezing. No matter how comfortable my shoes were, my feet always ached afterwards.

When I moved out-of-town, I had to learn how to make Thanksgiving food from scratch. Outside of NY, it is not so easy to pick up kosher stuffing mix or a can of cranberry sauce with a hechsher. So, I'd buy the real cranberries for the sauce and roast the pine nuts and chestnuts to put into the stuffing, etc. I'm actually a pretty good cook when I bother. My pareve pumpkin pie is, like, to die for, dahling.

This year, I invited my family over to my house for Thanksgiving. Imagine my surprise when my sister-in-law announced to me that they would be happy to come, but that they no longer believed in Thanksgiving. It was, ahem, pagan and goyish. Yes.

Just by way of explanation, my brother married a more Yeshivish girl, who has been progressively going further and further over to the dark side these last few years.

I said to her, "Leah, you are an idiot."

I'm usually not that articulate, but I felt the need for clarity. She was messing with one of my favorite things and imposing her Yeshivish wackiness on it. I sent her this link to a halachic discussion of the nature of Thanksgiving, which only seemed to strengthen her resolve that it was not to be purposefully celebrated.


I got her to promise that she would not be mentioning this nonsense in front of my Mom. And she and my bro and their kids are still coming for the meal with my other siblings, so I can't complain. See, this is the sort of stuff that is not Jewish, it's just neuroses hiding behind Judaism.

Gobble, gobble, baby.


Shmilda said...

And yet she eats your vegetables and drinks your water? Perhaps she isn't fully on the dark side yet.

WebGirl said...

But see that's the thing. Those are halachic issues, whether you think they have merit or not. This is not halacha. This is not even hashkafa. This is just a little slice of crazy.

I should write a how-to guide:
"The Idiot's Guide to Being Neurotic and Calling It Judaism." I'd make a fortune.

Nice Jewish Guy said...

I love Thanksgiving. I love eating turkey 'till I can't move, the crisp weather, the sweaters, the cheer in the air amongst people of all ethnicities and cultures; Thanksgiving is one of those pan-cultural holidays, where if you live in America, you celebrate it- who doesn't have something to be thankful for?

Your SIL would be "happy to come, but no longer believes in Thanksgiving"? What does that mean? They'd show up, eat turkey, and participate in the evening, but would eschew any official recognition of the day as a secular day of giving thanks? By her logic, she shouldn't enjoy a BBQ on Memorial Day or Labor day either. After all, they are also arbitrarily chosen days of secular observance, accompanied by a festive meal.

I wonder sometimes if some peoples' hold on their frumkeit is so weak that they think something like acknowledging Thanksgiving cheapens it. I think it's quite the opposite.

YM said...

Reb Moshe was known to have said not to celebrate Thanksgiving; 4th of July is ok, but not turkey day. Thats one reason why some frum Jews won't celebrate it.

WebGirl said...

Actually, YM, that's not entirely accurate. For an explanation of Rav Moshe's tshuvah, please read Rabbi Broyde's article.