holidays = consumerism? or, how to track down thanksgiving dinner without caving to “the man”.

holidays in this culture, it seems, are all based on some form of consumerism.  when I first moved out on my own, I was strongly of the opinion that I was no longer going to celebrate holidays.  thinking that all they were was a chance for big businesses to cash in on the emotions and programming of the masses.

and then The Wizard came along.  who was I to deprive my son of holiday memories?

I was distraught and confused.  floundering in poverty and political ideals, I didn’t want to go out and throw down a fuckton of money on gifts and meals and decorations.  what to do?

Dr. Seuss to the rescue!  honestly, one of my favorite people of all time (busted out with the amazing quote of “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”).  unwilling to deprive my son of the awesomeness of The Grinch, we watched the original movie on cartoon network.  (the one based off the Seuss illustrations, not the one with Jim Carrey, who admittedly did a wicked rendition of “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch”.)

to make a long story short, I am a sap.  when it comes down to it, I love holidays, conceptually.  I just needed a friendly reminder that “stuff” is not required to make a good holiday.  the answer of course, lies in my answer to almost every life struggle: D.I.Y.

I was nervous that I’d get sucked back in to the drama and commercialism, but I kept the idea of majick, and making a bright center in a cold and dark time.  we potted a little tree and brought it indoors, bought a box of hooks for 97 cents, and then had a blast turning random little items about the house into ornaments (my favorites: a condom {in wrapper, of course} and a little orange plastic army man), and discovered almost everyone who came over wanted to contribute to the tree.  that was when I realized that ghetto-rigged holidays have more power and memories to them than anything that we buy.  and I’ve tried to keep that feeling and spirit for each holiday which has followed.

halloween, we can make our costumes, and make our treats, like people have done for decades, christmas we can make presents and decorations… but what of thanksgiving?

Thanksgiving consumerism is of course, Food Consumerism.  the meal is the focus, and we stress about the cost, the time, and the effort.  …however, when you think about it, most traditional Thanksgiving foods, are tradition simply because they were accessible, cheaply, in November.

the basic spread:

Turkey: how to acquire a turkey without buying it from the grocery store?  easy as pie (HA!).  while turkey hunting isn’t that common anymore (and lends the mental image of guys with muskets and buckle-hats running through the woods), there are quite a few people who still raise them.  craigslist, around thankgsgiving, starts getting alot of posts from farmers who raise turkeys, offering them for sale or barter.  most people sell them pre-butched, plucked and cleaned, and if you offer to help with this lovely process, you can probably get a significant discount.  if you still can’t afford it, or if you can’t find farm-raised turkeys in your areas, don’t fret!  people give out turkeys like crazy around thanksgiving.  lots of employers give turkeys to their employees, and if yours doesn’t, odds are you know someone who does.  there are also lots of agencies that will give you a turkey if you qualify.  there’s also churches that hand out turkeys, often without prying into your private life.  ask around.

stuffing: okay, bread is THE EASIEST food to acquire, period.  grocery stores and bakeries both get rid of day-old bread.  you can check dumpsters if you want to go the punkrock route, and otherwise, just check or ask around to see where it gets donated to.  senior centers are a good resource here, my father-in-law is always bringing us free bread he got from the senior center.  leave it sitting out on a plate overnight to get good and stale, and thereyougo!  now all you need is some onions and celery.  …speaking of which:

veggies: you can check craigslist for local farmers, cruise your area, or talk to family members who garden.  posting something on an actual bulletin board “seeking local produce”, is also a pretty good idea, and brings people to you.  you can always offer to trade labor for food.  alot of the traditional thanksgiving veggies are roots (sweet potatoes, yams, potatoes, carrots, onions, etc.), which are infamous for storing well.  green beans are one of the easiest foods to can ever.  in other good news, fruits and veggies are THE foods to dumpster dive.  they get thrown out well before they ever get moldy, and cutting off some brown spots never hurt anyone.  if you see an over-ripe banana, grab it, and mash it into your sweet potatoes, the consistencies are similar, and rather than making your sweet potatoes taste like banana, it’ll bring out the flavor of the sweet potatoes.

Apples: apple pie and stuffed apples are a staple.  fortunately, autumn apples are plentiful.  dumpsters are, again, a good resource, and there are lots of orchards that let you go and pick your own, sometimes for free, sometimes for a minimal fee.

Pumpkins: there’s a reason thanksgiving falls right after halloween, and many pumpkin farms grow pie pumpkins as well as carving pumpkins, and if you don’t have any left over from halloween decorations, post-halloween they usually come dirt-cheap anyway.

if you want further tips for dumpster diving, or just acquiring free food, freegan.info is pretty much the place to go for advice, as well as just being an awesome website for anyone who wants to duck out of the economy and consumer culture, or just save some money.

-Domestic Anarchist

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