Tofurkey and the Decline of My Favorite Holiday

by Chuck Ross on November 23, 2010

My favorite holiday of the year, the one coming upon us in two days, is on the decline. This should come as no surprise to anyone who pays attention to the arc of traditionalism in this country.

For a while now, whoever is in charge of fucking up our cherished American traditions has turned to revisionist methods to mangle our fondness for my favorite day. Stories of the Pilgrims and Indians have been littered with qualifications and revisionism. Not content to just let us assume that white settlers and brown natives got along for once and decided to eat a nice meal in celebration so that we can gorge ourselves, liberals all over would have us think that the Pilgrims tea-bagged the Indians’ Thanksgiving gravy with their syphilis infested scrotums before raping their land and using their buffalo for target practice. This modern strain of revisionism made Christopher Columbus out to be a major asshole; that was the first step in delegitimizing any tradition that extols the unique development of America.

On the micro level, my favorite holiday is lambasted for its tendency to bring together dysfunctional families, but this same sort of jibe isn’t considered when we celebrate bringing drunk dysfunctional random strangers together in celebration of sombreros, leprechauns, or slutty costumes over an uncommon celebration of Mexico, Ireland, and STDs. Valuing family and thinking outside of yourself for one day is marginalized as square at best and a tool of the patriarchy at worst.

There are other symptoms of this holiday’s demise. By all indications we should expect Thanksgiving to cease existing anywhere near its present scale within the next 20 years. By then, the fourth Thursday in November will become an arbitrary starting point for businesses to synchronize their ledgers to get an apples-to-apples comparison of year-over-year same-store-sales figures. That many hyphens in one sentence should prove to us that something is gravely wrong. The largest retailers have engaged in this most modern incantation of anti-traditionalism. Wal-Mart, K-Mart, The Gap triad – the eponymous leg, Banana Republic, and Old Navy – will be open on Thanksgiving Day. Many smaller retailers will do the same. Not only does this detract focus from the sanctity of what was once a common cultural bond, it now pulls shoppers and employees away from families – eroding connections that may benefit from an extra day of familial bonding. Those retailers being leading lights of industry, and the retail industry as a whole being the leading light of Americans’ system of values, Thanksgiving as a traditional institution seems doomed.

But that is not what has really sent me over the edge this holiday season. What has really mashed my peas this year is this emerging trend of “Tofurkey” as a vegetarian alternative to the real thing. What really hurts me the most about the slow decline of Thanksgiving is the stupidity of this concept. If you’re vegetarian why even pretend to eat turkey? The tradition is to eat turkey in meat form; if you’re going to eat tofu then you aren’t participating in the tradition so stop trying to trick yourself. Eat regular tofu in its rectangular prism shape along with your sprouts and lima beans like you do every other day of the year. You can have some mashed potatoes too this time, but no gravy. The gravy has animal guts in it, and you can pass that to me.

I don’t understand why vegetarians can’t just have a substitute protein source and leave it at that without trying to redefine “turkey”. The extra choice is like ham for those assholes who always say “I actually like ham better than turkey”.

I also have questions. I wonder if tofurkey will be in a turkey shape complete with tofu formed into legs, wings, and breasts? More importantly I wonder if there will be a tofu wishbone for poor, anemic vegetarian children to pull apart as they make a wish (for meat, no doubt). How about tofu turkey necks? And can we replace the carving knife with one usually used for butter? The most experienced male at the dinner table will give way to the hairiest female when it comes to the celebrated act of carving the “bird”.

So yes, my friends, Thanksgiving is fucked.

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