Shut Up and Eat

By Betsy Bradford

Tomorrow, we Americans will celebrate Thanksgiving, a day when we gather with our nearest and dearest and eat turkey, sweet potato casserole, and pies. Ahh! But there are some among us who argue that this isn't the true Thanksgiving.

Here's the argument: we eat the Thanksgiving dinner to commemorate the original Thanksgiving dinner shared by the pilgrims and Native Americans in Plymouth Colony in 1621. The problem is, very little of what we now put on our Thanksgiving table was part of the original feast. In the only two written records of the event, no one mentions turkey! They didn't have sweet potatoes! They probably didn't have pie! Clearly, we're doing this all wrong!

But before you go throwing the Butterball in the garbage and buying venison instead, let's consider the important difference between authenticity and tradition. Whether or not turkey’s authentic to the original Thanksgiving, it has been a traditional part of the meal for over 100 years. I don't know about you, but I never had a Thanksgiving eel growing up. Maybe my ancestors did, but, well, this isn't 1621.

The foods that grace my family's Thanksgiving table have been around for my whole life, and probably a lot longer than that, too. Authentic or not, these have become the tradition, for us and for many other Americans. As far as I'm concerned, we observe holiday traditions not just for their own sake, but because they make us feel good. They remind us of where we come from. It's the taste of our family and of our lives. Why should we sacrifice that just because it's not authentic?

Or we could forgo our family traditions in favor of, say, swan, but when was the last time you had swan? Where the hell would you get swan, if you wanted it? And what would your family do to you if you served it to them? And let’s not forget the dessert issue! My brother loves pie so much he calls Thanksgiving "Pie Day." What do you think would happen if I took away the pie and replaced it with nothing?

Our Thanksgiving traditions may be inauthentic, but personally, I care. Instead, I'm going to enjoy the wonderful bounty of our holiday table and the company of my family. And if you find that you’re still considering serving goose or lobster this Thanksgiving, don't. Just shut up and eat. You'll be happy you did.