Lancaster County PA, Sunday morning. photo credit: Susan Subak
Just finished the Thanksgiving leftovers last night and am revisiting my annual speculation about the future of this American holiday. This is the most greenhouse gas intensive holiday if we consider that more Americans drive and fly around this time than any other time of the year. But for a minority of Americans, the idea of gathering a large number of relatives around a table to eat traditional meat, potatoes, vegetables and pies, is an utterly routine, mundane event. The Amish have a similar meal most days of the week, which starts with a respectful silence, a pause. I was reminded of this one Thanksgiving Day watching a group from the Comanche nation circling the lobby of the museum of the American Indian in a ritual dance. All along the stairwell balcony long-skirted Amish women were watching with obivous enjoyment. It was the perfect day to take a break from food preparation and hosting and be a tourist for a change. I don't know if they had chosen this particular museum because of its relevance on Thanksgiving day. To many first nation people, Thanksgiving is a day of mourning, a time to remember genocide and denuded lands. These members of the Comanche nation, men, children and women behind them were moving slowly, but they were dancing. I think that the Amish onlookers understood the emotion behind the dance, perhaps better than they understand the rituals of the American mainstream, the logistically complicated, greenhouse gas infused mobility of modern Thanksgiving.