[This Thanksgiving memory was originally published in November of 2002 as a part of issue #110 of Poor Mojo's Almanac(k); it was the companion piece to his advice column of that week "Ask the Giant Squid: Thanks to Giving".]
Author's Note: The holidayland of your fine nation has been of interest to me for sometime. If you are interested, you might peruse two of my other statements regarding the Giving of Thanks, one from this year, to which this essay is attached, and one of last year which is of a more historical nature.
Assembled children who lack living parents, or whose parents have decided you are not worthy of love; and to the adults who have assembled here either out of love of unloved children, or for want of weekly compensation even though this not be your job of choice; and finally to the criminals who are here for the service of the community, you minors who have possessed unlawfully the alcohol, and you Boy Scouts working shamefully for your badges of merit, and for the odd few here on both accounts, I bid you good afternoon and welcome.
This is, for you at least, the Thanksgiving Day.
Those who have families and who are loved have their day of thanks tomorrow, but for you the day is today because those who have family are busy tomorrow forming lifelong memories of happiness and closeness with their genetically similar grouping of lifeforms while you rest cold and alone here in the orphanage.
But today is your Thanksgiving, and I have come here to honor it with you.
I too lack a group of genetically similar lifeforms to share my trying time. I once had a brother, but he was killed by whales. And I once had a mother, but I do not know now where she is. And I once had a father, but he I slew for breaking several things that I owned and I resented his having driven my mother away . . . or perhaps that is not how that proceeded . . . I am unsure. But regardless, like you, I lack a family, nuclear or otherwise, though I have been known to be radioactive on occasions, and am thusly unsure if those occurences of irradiation might possibly place me into some manner of middle ground.
Regardless, of course, I am here. And I have brought with me a feast to share, for it is the giving of thanks time and I am to be growing full in my magnanimous largesse, like an emperor who has suffered the slaves to live another day.
But first, it is your custom that I honor when I ask the yearly question: For what have we thanks to give on this cold November day?It is indeed a trying question, and for you especially it must trouble you to your soul. I have come, in part, to help answer that question.
Why should you be thankful? You are unwanted curs, barely maintaining selfs in a society that turns blindly away, your dirtied cheeks, your gaunt sides that reveal ribs, your snotty, sniveling noses like pus-filled little buttons. For what could you possibly be happy to have received in this world?
Your parents have abandoned you, as I have been made to understand, either by way of death most cruel and painful or by way of disconsolate drug addiction, or by way of general neglect. It is likely that more than half of you were born to mothers and to fathers who did not want you. Many of you will never be wanted in this world, from the day you are conscious to the day you slip away aged and insane, sleeping under the concrete pillars of some magnificent super-expressway that leads rich and en-loved citizens from their warm and luxurious homes to the walled and fortified shopping malls that they leisurely wander wearing silks and cashmeres and wools you will never know the touch of, and eating chocolates and candies and succulent roasts you will never now the taste of. For what can you be thankful?
You are cold in the night, not only in your flesh— which is weak— but also your souls— which are so very much weaker. There is every day the reminders of your singular aloneness, and you know in your hearts that even if you rise to the highest most extravagant wealthy successes, you will still be drafty in the chest from that lacking of unanswerable love that can only come from a caring family, a mother, a father, a brother, a sister. How can you go on living?
Well, my children, it is the day of thanks. And do you know what we are thankful for this fine day?
Do you know what joy has given us all this happy place in the world and in history, as Americans, whether loved or not, happy or not, rich or not, fed or not, squid or not? What are we thankful for?
Like pilot fish before a great and phlegmatic shark, it was Cholera and her brothers that foreshadowed the coming of the white man to this country. On the wind which was pushed just ahead of Columbus, John Smith, the Mayflower, the oar-boats of Leif Erikson, came the multiferous and multitudinous diseases of Eurasia and Africa, a richer cocktail of cleansing death never having been seen before or since, above the sea or below it.
And so, like the blunderbuss affixed to the front of my vehicle here before you, the firearms of the white men were nary if ever used in anger. And the native peoples, like the flies in a cloud of the glorious Raid can, fell before the whispering eastern breeze that came in foul from the sea.
Millions fell before a single leather boot, a single silver buckle, a single felt hat, came ashore.
And it was as though HUMAN-GOD himself had opened the land to the ghost people of Europe.
And I cannot say He— to whatever degree He might exist— did not do that, for it freed those pasty despots to conquer the land as they saw fit without shedding nearly one-one thousandth of the blood it would have otherwise required. And so they could take the land violently, but also in way virtually free of guilt, and it was glorious, and it is now your honor to live starving and alone in this happy, free, cholera-founded nation.
So, join with me now, you solitary whelps, in a moment of prayer where we might give thanksgiving to such a quixotic HUMAN-GOD on high- provided he exists in more than a negligible degree— for His creation of this land, and for his creation of cholera with which it could be pruned free of the vermin that had inhabited it for so long.
God bless America, and her diseases which make her strong, and her people who can live blithely through any nightmare or holocaust and lose not one wink of sleep over it, as children such as yourselves, and the world over, many who die starving and motherless, only so that a few might grow up and take upon themselves greater and more indefatigable blunderbusses than this, assailing our shores with our own jetliners and exotic bio-engineered super-diseases.
This world is manifold in its glories, and for that we give thanks.
Now, to the eating. You shall all relish what I have prepared for you this day.
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