Tag Archives: Thanksgiving

Not in the mood for Thanksgiving? Then be grateful for what you don’t have!

By Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Author’s program note. Rarely if ever have I seen my fellow countrymen so riled up… irritable, angry, rude epithets at the ready, bad behaviors endemic. What’s going on? Try these for openers…

A rotten economic situation that just won’t get better… and you’re afraid it never will. And so you worry (for the umpteenth time) about just how secure your job is. Is there some guy in Mumbai who’ll be glad to do it at half what you get? You’ve raised the subject with your boss… but his answer was not reassuring and now he won’t look you in the eye.

A president whose leadership style gives us no leadership… and nary a Republican presidential candidate who doesn’t cause multitudes to hold their noses, gagging, and wonder why our mind boggling lengthy and expensive campaign produces candidates we can’t stand or respect, much less admire.

Sickening scandals like the one still unfolding at Penn State, scandals that make us wake up in the middle of the night shouting, “What the…… is going on around here?”. Sometimes we wonder, and not just once either, whether anyone is honest, decent, and unarmed anymore… or whether it’s only suckers (you being one) who play by the rules.

Every day we pick up the newspaper and read about another murder in the neighborhood, our neighborhood. Are our neighbors only “good” because we don’t know their secret lives and the home truths that haven’t yet been disclosed?

We read about some drug bust at the school down the street… and are horrified to see the police photo and recognize our kid’s favorite teacher. We run upstairs and check the closet and dresser drawer to see if this has touched us even closer. You’re fortunate today… nothing out of order… but
the word “yet” comes immediately to mind… since these days you expect something bad to happen any time now and aren’t particularly surprised when it does.

We read about… and are as concerned as our busy lives will allow… another species declared extinct… another Web sex scandal… another political official with a skill for theft and plausible denial. You feel sure he’ll get off easy when his time in court comes up. Is that what the bandage over the eyes of the statue of Justice is supposed to mean?

You’re concerned about America’s unending wars in countries whose names you cannot pronounce, much less find on a map, but which you are paying for. You’ve got a friend whose young cousin, proud and handsome in his Marine Corps uniform, was killed by a sniper… a boy just 20 years old.

The thought haunts you all day… You want to believe such early death helps the country in question, America, the world… but you don’t. You see that boy’s eyes and feel them boring into you, asking one question over and over — “Why?”… and you just can’t give a good answer.

You feel increasingly helpless as the barrage of bad news, miseries, muddles, mayhem just won’t quit. You want time off from it all… but these realities, details delivered to us faster than ever compliments of the Web, constitute the unceasing rhythm of our lives.

And this is only the tip of the iceberg.

We wonder if, after a lifetime of contributing, Social Security will be there when we need it… and whether Medicare will provide the level of service we’ll need. A gal from our office had that acute breathing problem and was put on a respirator; the hospital didn’t want to pay for it… and the matter now resides in their legal department. We want care… we get lawyers. It makes us very, very nervous…. and sad.

We wonder how some shady Greek and Italian politicians can have so much influence on our lives so far away. What kind of magic powers have they got that force us (however superficially) to pay attention to what they’re doing… and doing… and doing, all of which threatens the stability and satisfaction of our lives? You want to say it’s “unfair”… but you know no one cares what you think about the matter… and you don’t want people to think you’re a wimp. So you stay quiet and unsatisfied… it’s just the way things are. And so the days pass…

… until the calendar tells you it’s Thanksgiving, the official day, sanctioned by custom and dictated by law, you get together with family and friends to eat too much and give thanks for your ability to do so. But this year, you just don’t feel like it, though you wouldn’t mind a piece or two of pumpkin pie. What’s a body to do?

I’ll share something that works for me… don’t waste your time enumerating all the good things you’ve got, especially when you realize most of them are flawed and superficial. Instead, focus on the myriad of problems, inconveniences, woeful situations and debilitating malevolence you don’t have… bullets you have dodged for another year. This will make you feel really thankful about things that really matter. Here’s how it works…

Preparation and The List

This year I attend my 64th Thanksgiving, so I consider myself a man with some experience in the matter. Put this experience to work by putting aside the usual falderals… don’t just hold hands and ask little Janie to say the blessing. Janie is probably too young to have much insight into the event… and will be unable to perform her helping role to perfection. Thus the end result will be unutterably banal, like all the years before.

Instead, seize this bull by the horns and brainstorm a long list of things you are thankful you don’t have to do, think about, or consider in any way. Be brutally frank.

Item: your boss got fired because of that restroom peccadillo, and you never have to see him again. That was huge!

Item: your estranged cousin Herbie, bete noir of many years, has gone missing, no one knows where. If he never returns, that would be too soon.

Item: Your darling daughter didn’t marry the wild idealist who always played the zither and never bathed. Delicious.

Item: your neighbor’s noisome pooch Mickey, gifted with a piecing yelp and high decibel duration, ran away in pursuit of amorous freedom. He will of course be missed by someone… but not by you.

Keep going! Don’t stint! As you get into the task, you see that the things you don’t have, that you were afraid you would have and forever are the very things you always needed to make this holiday sing.

Now type your list. You will never remember them all and since each adds its mite to the happy event, do not rely on memory. Practice, too, reciting them. Read slowly…. with deliberate cadence and gravitas in your voice.

Having recited this list you will feel, perhaps for the first time in months, truly happy for you have discovered for yourself and shown the world the ample bounty of happiness at your fingertips, Thanksgiving now and forever your favorite holiday.

This is an excerpt from Dr. Lant’s new book: “Thanksgiving: Some Remarks on Turkeys and Their Day”

Available at:  http://www.drjeffreylant.com/store/p55/Thanksgiving-turkey

Thanksgiving from the turkey’s perspective. Over the river and through the woods, a nation’s fowl behavior is noted, bemoaned, admonished, challenged.Timely commentary from the cutting edge.


Thanksgiving from the turkey’s perspective. Over the river and through the woods, a nation’s fowl behavior is noted, bemoaned, admonished, challenged.Timely commentary from the cutting edge

by  Dr. Jeffrey Lant.

Author’s program note. If you’re a resident of these United States, the fourth Thursday of November will soon be upon us in all its excess, gluttony, and self-congratulation. We know this as Thanksgiving Day, but it most certainly is no day of glorious and heart felt thanksgiving for the crucial centerpiece of this annual event sacred to gourmandizing and loosened belts. In fact, for the family of the genus Meleagris, commonly called turkeys, this date is the darkest day of their lives, their history and their entire existence on this planet… but no longer.

This year for the first time since their majestic ancestors graced the Early Miocene a long, long time ago and after nearly 400 years of unapologetic, systematic execution and intense gobbling launched by New England Pilgrims in the 1660s, turkeys are rallying for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. In short, these ancient birds of unmitigated plumage and pluck now demand respect, restitution, and revolution. Due to a special arrangement with a band of their insurgents, I am able to take you inside their headquarters. Thus they acknowledge their need for world-wide recognition and your support for their pressing cause.

Urgency in the air: my interview with the Young Turk leader called “Squawk”, a bird of stark destiny and purpose.

A Message from Squawk.

I was not particularly surprised when I saw the note left under the door last night; indeed given my support over the course of many years for the God-given right to life of polar bears, eagles, monarch butterflies, African elephants and many others, I should have been chagrined not to have been contacted. I have my amor propre too after all. But there it was.

“Be ready. Comrades will make contact precisely at midnight. No cameras. Nothing but pencil and paper.” Then the bold, audacious, even grandiloquent mark already famous: “Squawk” and his proud sign, one blood-red claw print. So… they had chosen me…

… And then it occurred to me. When I booked my Thanksgiving Day reservation at the Sheraton Commander hotel right down the street, the young manager had asked me if I wanted turkey or ham for my main course. Without thinking, I told her that if the glaze would be as deep and resonant as last year’s, my selection was certainly ham. Thus inadvertently by my choice of which dead animal I should feast upon, I became, if anathema to pigs, yet simpatico to turkeys.

In this way I came to know that adherents of the turkeys’ cause can be anywhere, even in the most unexpected of places. Ah, that is what the bright-eyed, chipper serving person meant when she said, “I’m so glad, Dr. Lant” in an especially insinuating manner. Old-goat that I am I thought her come-hither look was for my geriatric charms, and so I thought again “there’s no fool like an old fool.”

Perforce, to my work.

Understanding my task, I readied myself for what could only be a fateful encounter, its salient and urgent points to be brought to a world of the unenlightened. And so I regained myself. I was myself again for in such matters I remain a “Young Turk,” too, deferring to no one, not even Squawk, revolution’s anvil though he be.

The feathered comrades were as good as their word. At the stroke of midnight, I heard the fluttering of wing and heard the unmistakable sound emanating from the fleshy wattle or protuberance that hangs from the top of the beak. And thus I fell, through professional pride and recognized standing, into the hands of those who, without Squawk’s laissez-passer, in an instant could blind me and shred my fragile flesh. I now felt as they had felt these thousands of years a prisoner, helpless, incarcerated, destined for premature death. Thus did the clan Meleagris signal the new order of their kind… and the resulting new order of mine.

Of the next several minutes, I recall sensations only. Of feathers carefully positioned to extinguish all light; just a little showing, otherwise entirely dark. Of the occasional sharp claw prick, whether by accident or design, no less painful for that. It was an acute reminder that I was in their complete and utter power, perhaps the first man so rendered in the long relations of turkey and human. They said nothing. I said nothing. Where I was, who I was with, what they would do to me would become completely apparent soon enough… and was.

Squawk’s headquarters. We meet and “talk turkey”.

I never did discover just where I was and where we met. But even if I knew, I wouldn’t say. I am a journalist and my sources sacred… So I shall simply say the place had a make shift aura about it, as if this were a temporary abode, one to be quickly occupied, quickly abandoned.

“Good evening, Doctor Lant.” It was Squawk, and I felt his power, strength, and authority at once. Here was a bird who meant business… and who saw me only as a tool to reach his objective. We understood each other, and so our business could proceed, briskly, for time was limited and we both had deadlines…

He motioned me to a chair. He stood. And then he began, the words swift, lucid, hot, each a declaration etched in acid. He meant every one and every one came without difficulty. Here was a subject of paramount importance to every turkey. He knew he spoke for all his breed, was supremely confident of his position, of the need to speak out, of the full justice of his cause, and the need for action now, complete action, long overdue action, and of what would have to be done should this action be deferred by even a single moment.

It was a clarion call… and Squawk looked through me and made me see what he saw… he was a bird transfigured… exactly what was required for this pivotal time in the long, one-sided relation of turkey and human. I knew as each word emerged that I was hearing history in the making. Like it or not, every clipped syllable was Important. Things would never be the same again.

What Squawk said.

Now each word came fast, irrefutable, beautiful in its delivery, purified by total belief and total commitment.

Of the days before human came. Of a proud bird, great in size, majestic in movement, free ranging over the great land called by humans North America. These were the proud days, the glory days, when every bird knew the joy that is freedom.

Of the days that brought the people called Pilgrims, people who fled tyranny and injustice only to bring a greater tyranny, more menacing and thorough injustice to the land called New England. These storm-tossed people came with only one thing in amplitude: arrogance, an arrogance that everything they saw was theirs and theirs alone. We did not understand these humans then. We saw them as poor, freedom-loving, in need of help we were ready to give in unstinting measure.

And so we accepted their invitation to the First Thanksgiving… where we were the guest of honor indeed: as food. We came in friendship. We found the cooking pot instead… and not merely the pot for some; the pot for all of us in our thousands, our tens of thousands, our millions.

And so the Pilgrims grew fat upon the bounty of our trusting bodies. No wonder these humans gave thanks. They were triumphant over all, a revolution in every step they took. Against such God-believing people, forever certain in their cause what could be done except revolt, violent, intense, thorough, unceasing until the freedom of old becomes the order of the great new day.

“Does this mean….?”, I asked. He knew the question before I even finished it. “Yes, friend, it does. There are comrades who operate in the shady lanes of liberal Newton, of affluent Brookline, even one hero who patrols the grounds and harasses the privileged students of the Harvard Business School. And as our ranks grow, we shall expand… so that no pedestrian wherever can walk, no motorist drive without our calculated outrage made manifest, painful.”

He meant every word … and from previous print reports I knew he would do it if he could. After all the population of wild turkeys has never been greater or demonstrated greater purpose and solidarity.


With the briefest touch wing to hand, Squawk signalled that this unprecedented interview was over. Disciplined comrades were at the ready for my immediate departure, blocking my eyes, escorting me home to a world which suddenly seemed less equable than before.

I turned on CNN which announced that the President would be exercising his powers of executive clemency at the White House today, live in just 15 minutes. The lucky spared turkey was called  “Squawk”. Now wasn’t that cute?

The Marine Corps band was on hand and was just now commencing “The President’s Hymn” written in 1863 when President Abraham Lincoln declared the first official Thanksgiving holiday. Its authors were William Augustus Muhlenberg and Joseph W. Turner, spiritual descendants of the Pilgrims.

“GIVE thanks, all ye people give thanks to the Lord, Alleluias of freedom, with joyful accord; Let the East and the West, North and South roll along, Sea, mountain, and prairie, one thanksgiving song.”

Now face to face, eye to eye, Squawk and the President were just a moment from destiny…

About the Author

Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is an awards winning, best selling author.

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