Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Completely True Origin of the Thanksgiving Holiday

"So," I said to Jamie, "Thanksgiving is coming.  Are you ready for your visit from the Turkey Goblin?"
"Turkey Goblin?"
"Yeah.  The Turkey Goblin."
"What is the Turkey Goblin?"
I, of course, was shocked.  But it occured to me that not everyone knows about the Turkey Goblin or the completely true story of the secret origin of Thanksgiving.  Luckily for you, I've got a history degree from a state university, and this is exactly the sort of thing we learn in class.

While it is true that in olden times when people drowned old crones to see if they were witches, some fairly misguided Englishmen fled the UK in a leaky boat and landed at Plymouth Rock where they would commence being all judgey and breaking bread with the locals... that's at best tangential to the true story of the Turkey Goblin.  But as an historical sidenote, the facts as they pertain to today's Thanksgiving that are true include:
  • Around Plymouth rock, with a solid blunderbuss and decent aim, one could find and shoot a turkey
  • A sort of "oh, we're not all dead of the pox yet.  Thanks, God!" dinner was held, and some locals came by once they heard a potluck was going down
  • Pilgrim women were invariably super sexy, right down to their buckled little shoes
  • Abigail saw Goody Proctor with the devil
This was, of course, all before SCIENCE.

As you know, Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin made up Western Science, with Jefferson working on Boring Science, while Franklin worked to perfect Awesome (aka: Mad) Science, including his famous attempts to destroy Philadelphia with lightning, a key and a length of twine.

The key figure in our story is, of course, Abraham Lincoln, who in October of 1863 (more than 100 years after Science was invented) declared Thanksgiving a National Holiday.  And while we can all agree that Lincoln's Thanksgiving Proclamation was heartfelt, honest and one of the great works of American historical-type writing whatzit, it's also an elaborate cover story and smokescreen cooked up by a President who knew his people should never, ever know the truth. 

Lincoln is here to tell you:  It is hard out there for a pimp

By Spring of 1863, the war between the States had raged for two long years, pitting citizen against citizen, brother against brother. Things seemed to be going poorly for the North, who could not believe they were losing an honest-to-god War to the fiddle-dee-dee-spewing, slack jawed racist yokels of the South.  In early May, after the second Battle of Fredricksburg, intelligence fell into the hands of the Union forces.  The reports were stupefying and near unbelievable, but there seemed to be a grain of truth as they pulled together clues that otherwise made no sense.

What had become of SCIENCE in the Confederate states?  What had the devious Jefferson Davis chartered them to do?  And what did the reports of whole regiments wiped out by beasts truly mean?

The answer was, of course, completely shocking.

At the outset of the war, Jefferson Davis had set about collecting the finest Scientists of the South (those not schooled exclusively in the Southern Sciences of moonshining, deep-frying and inventing NASCAR), and began a top secret project.  By the Fall of 1862, the project had proven a small success and that winter, Union Troops trembled on the field of battle before the might of 7-foot, Confederate Turkey Goblins.

Receiving dispatches at his Top Secret Underground Command Center, Lincoln considered each bit of evidence anew, and the report was grim.  Indeed, it seemed the nefarious SCIENCE minds of the south had gone ROGUE SCIENTIST, and the turkeys of the South had been mutated and weaponized.  From an egg, turkeys would grow at a normal rate for up to a year and a half, at which point...  they swelled to tremendous size and ferocity, and could follow simple commands, such as "go kill all those guys over there."  Lincoln's blood ran cold.  Pensively, he fiddled with the brim on his stove-pipe hat.  Northern researchers, who were from real colleges and not made up diploma mills like Mizzou and LSU, would still need time, and time was not what they had.  And the thought of fighting Giant Goblin Turkeys with Giant Goblin Turkeys...  the fallout was unthinkable, let alone what the nation would do with these beasts once the fighting was done.

But Davis' scientists had only succeeded so far in producing a small batch of Turkey Goblins.  They had not yet been announced to a wary Southern public, who, Davis believed, would likely wish to fry them or ask for both a giant duck and a giant chicken to shove within his prized new force and cook them up.

Lincoln picked up the red phone (he also had secretly already invented the telephone) and called together an elite squad, which he himself would lead into the South.  The names are now mostly meaningless to Americans:  Samuel Clemens, Frederick "The Fist" Douglass, Undead Davey Crockett, and "Tiny" Thomas Edison - Boy Inventor.

Frederick "The Fist" Douglass was a master of hand-to-hand combat and invented the 8-Track Cassette
What is known is that the team dropped in by line from their air-balloon insertion vehicle, and were able to dispatch the existing Turkey Goblins with a thrice-blessed silver blunderbuss and shot made from silver, iron, argon and forged in the flames of a sacrificial fire and cooled in holy water.  However, to their horror, the squad learned that part of Davis' mad scheme was to release a version of the virus that created the Turkey Goblins into the water supply,coding that virus with a message to kill "Americans", believing that the Confederacy would certainly succeed, and, in his maddened state, that only those in the North could possibly ever be affected.  Insisting that he would stop Davis' mad scheme, Lincoln learned that this plan was something Davis had actually put into motion days before.

After kicking Davis' ass and escaping, Lincoln and his team weighed their options.  Turkeys were plentiful, and lived all over the US.  The team had learned that the only sign that a turkey had the potential to mutate to a Turkey Goblin was that it would carry an odd chemical in its blood, something harmless to humans and the turkey, called tryptophan.

Master of all manner of vehicles, languages and seduction techniques, Clemens seems to have disappeared behind a pseudonym following the Turkey Goblin mission, never to be heard from again.

And that's when the young but clever former steam boat worker, Clemens, had an idea:  if we can't kill all the turkeys, let's, once a year, ensure a culling of the population before it grows and mutates.  Once a year, let's ensure a mass extermination of the birds while people can still eat them.

Lincoln looked at the blood-spattered blunderbuss in his hands, his own reflection glinting in the silver:  "The pilgrims, psychotic zealots that they were, may have given us an out on this one.  Men, we're going to give Thanks.  And we're going to do it each and every year, whether our brethren wish it or no...  We here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, and in no way for a horrific new breed of murderous seven foot turkey goblins, shall not perish from the earth."

Douglass designed the messaging, Clemens helped run the PR campaign,  "Tiny" Edison invented a special pair of forks for turning turkeys over in a pan, and Undead Davey Crockett returned to his subterranean tomb where he lay, waiting to be called once again into service in the name of freedom.

On October 3, 1863, Lincoln brought the reign of terror to an end as later that November, the population of turkeys was culled before it could rise up and destroy us.

That's not to say that every once in a while a turkey doesn't make it through and grow and change.  And sometimes the Turkey Goblin comes for you in the night, its horrible "gobble gobble gobble" the last thing some men hear.

And that is the completely true story of why we have Thanksgiving.

Beware his terrifying gobble
 But, honestly, I have no idea why Canada has Thanksgiving, too.  Those dudes are totally in the clear.