Yep, those people with the funny hats and blunderbusses were commies, saith the John Stossel and Rep. Todd Akin. But they learned their lesson and returned to good old Christian Capitalism. Meanwhile, over at the loopy lefty NYTimes, Kate Zernike traces this midrash through its many twists and turns. Do read them both, in that order if you wish to keep your appetite.
Were it not so grim in its influence I would laugh at this argument because the whole Thanksgiving story is a sham. Not the pilgrims didn't have the feast or that there is no such think as Thanksgiving, but the celebration we observe is purely secular, and ultimately quite pagan.
Long before Europeans set foot in the Americas natives had done much the same thing in our Great lakes region, a custom called the ghost supper. Further south the festival of El Dia de los Muertos resembles thanksgiving more than Halloween. Back in Europe, harvest festivals, necessary because some foods had to be consumed for lack of storage and preservation, had no Christian or national meaning. People just did them.
If we were serious about making this a real commemoration of Pilgrim pride and national gratitude we would do it like they did - as a community event. We would go to church and listen to long prayers and even longer sermons and maybe then sit down in large groups with an especial effort to invite guests. Think potluck supper. Indeed, before 1863, thanksgiving days were understood to be days of prayer and worship not days of eating and celebrating.
As it is, our Thanksgiving is now about family not nation, about eating not praying, about merriment not worship. And this, I believe, is just fine. Let's admit we are pagans about this, chuck the whole pilgrim thing out for lots of reasons, and just be grateful - something that does not need politics or preachers to happen.
Good food, good meat, good God, let's eat!