Prepared for David Gale's Peachy Coochy, November 2009. A reflection on Thanksgiving, crafts and what it mean to be away from home. Text below.
HAPPY HAPPY TURKEY DAY
1 — Today, Thanksgiving Day in the United States, happens to be one day when I miss home. My grandmother’s 94, my niece is 10 months, its my high school reunion tomorrow, and my mother misses me a lot. If you’d be willing to help me, I was hoping to try, in London, to recreate some of the magic of the holiday.
2 — Table 1: You and I are going to make paper turkeys. In your box you have paper plates… We trace our hands… give the thumb an eye and a smile… and cut her out.
3 — Cut cut, cut cut, cut cut, cut cut. Now you can decorate.
4 — According to a travelocity.com commercial, wildly popular when I was a teenager, turkey contains a chemical called triptophan which makes everyone sleepy after a meal. I’m not sure if this is true… but it seems true.
5 — Table 2: You and I are going to make pilgrim hats. Cut along the white line, fold the bottom, staple, and stick on a golden buckle.
6 — Cut cut, fold fold, staple staple, stick. It’s a bit trickier.
7 — We used to watch this movie, Molly’s Pilgrim, about a Jewish immigrant family who recently left the USSR. Molly — that couldn’t have been her real name — had to build a pilgrim for a school project.
8 — Her mother didn’t know what a pilgrim was. After Molly explained that a pilgrim is someone who flees their homeland to pursue religious freedom, Molly’s mother remade the doll to look them late 80s Russian immigrants to America.
9 — Molly was furious, but she eventually learned the lesson that was Thanksgiving.
10 — Table 3: You and I will make Indian headdresses. Staple the brown paper to make a headband, then staple on the feathers.
11— Staple staple, staple staple, staple staple, staple staple.
12 — Some of my favorite offensive Native American stereotypes include Peter Pan, an episode of Saved by the Bell, Tonto, and everything that had to do with Dances with Wolves.
13 — But then of course there was Christina Ricci who, in Addams Family Values, played Pocahontas in a camp play. Ricci refused to break-bread with the WASPy, popular girl playing Sarah Miller.
14— Wait, we cannot break bread with you. You have taken the land which was rightfully ours. YEars from now my people will be forced to live in mobile homes, on reservations. Your people will wear cardigans and drink highballs. We will sell our bracelets by the roadside. You will play golf and enjoy hot hors deurves. My people will have pain and degradation. Your people will have stick shifts. The gods of my tribe have spoken. they have said, do not trust the Pilgrims… especially Sarah Miller. And for all these reasons, I have decided to scalp you and burn your village to the ground.
15 — And if that wasn’t good enough. Four years later, during Christina Ricci’s grace during the Ang Lee film The Ice Storm, over Thanksgiving meal, Ricci repeated her critique. “Dear lord, thank you for this Thanksgiving holiday — and for all the material possessions that we have and enjoy. And for letting all the white people kill all the Indians, and steal their tribal lands. Stuff ourselves like pigs even though starving children in Asia are being Napalmed.”
16 — Christina Ricci single-handedly awakened my political consciousness.
17 — But I love Thanksgiving, and I’m a bit sad I’m not with my family tonight. But if you’ll humor me one more time — could those who made something please come up and have their photograph taken with me?
18 — Would you?
19 — Great, and send.
20 — (Brian calls his Mom) Hi, mom… I just sent you an email.