WeWriWa—Thanksgiving bingo

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Welcome back to Weekend Writing Warriors and Snippet Sunday, weekly Sunday hops where writers share 8–10 sentences from a book or WIP. This week’s snippet comes a bit after last week’s, when Cinnimin Filliard and her best friend Sparky (real name Katharina) headed off on Thanksgiving morning to get a fresh turkey.

Instead of going to Gregory’s Groceries for one of the free turkeys being given away, the girls decided to go to the kosher butcher so Sparky’s family could eat with Cinni’s. The Filliards have a very large house that’s been in the family for generations, long before the Great Depression, so there’s a wing with another kitchen and dining room enabling each family to keep their own dietary customs.

The girls weren’t able to resist the butcher’s bingo tournament, with a 25-pound turkey as a prize. The tournament runs until only five teams are left, and then those five teams play off for the winner. Several times, false bingo is called among all the competitors.

“The winner will not only get a twenty-five-pound turkey, freshly slaughtered, but also a pound each of carrots, beets, large yams, and eggs, and ten cans of potato gravy!  The runners-up will get a pound each of beans, eggs, and yams.”

Cinni put all her focus on remembering the names of each German number and matching up as many as possible on their cards.  Each time another team didn’t call bingo in time, she rejoiced.  Finally, as it started growing dusky, bingo appeared on Sparky’s latest card.

“Bingo, bingo, bingo!  B fünfzehn, I neunzig, N eins, G elf, O fünfundvierzig!” Sparky called.

The butcher verified the win. “The turkey and all the other food is yours.  I’ll go and slaughter the turkey right now.”

In order, the German numbers called are 15, 19, 1, 11, and 45.

If you’re wondering, my new banner goes along with my 12-part series on the 90th anniversary of The Jazz Singer. It’ll run from 13 November–11 December. I had so much fun researching and writing it. This also gave me back my writing mojo. I desperately needed a break away from fiction, where words were no longer coming as prolifically and easily as usual.

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WeWriWa—Sent to fetch a turkey

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Welcome back to Weekend Writing Warriors and Snippet Sunday, weekly Sunday hops where writers share 8–10 sentences from a book or WIP. This week I’m starting more snippets from the book formerly known as The Very Next, my chronological second Atlantic City book, set from March–December 1939.

In the morning, while Cinnimin Filliard’s parents are starting to prepare their holiday meal, an unexpected visitor shows up. Mrs. Filliard assumed she was a beggar, but Dawida explains she’s from the Polish family Mr. Filliard is trying to bring to the U.S.

Most of the family escaped to Lisbon in the wake of the Nazi invasion, and Dawida escaped Warsaw on her own. Mrs. Filliard is quite frazzled to realize yet another longterm houseguest has just been added to her home, and sends Cinni out to get the main course.

Mrs. Filliard looked at the grandfather clock. “Cinni, why don’t you make yourself useful and pick up a turkey?  It won’t appear in our oven all by itself.  Make sure it’s at least fifteen pounds, so it’ll be enough to reasonably feed everyone in our family plus those insufferable Smarts.  Gregory’s Groceries gives ‘em away today, so we don’t have to worry about money.”

“What about my family?” Sparky asked. “Perhaps we could all eat together.  The kosher butcher in Germantown is having a bingo game today, with a huge turkey as the prize.”

“However you girls get our turkey, it had better be here and ready by noon at the absolute latest.  I want to sit down to eat at four, and it takes about four hours to cook a fifteen-pound stuffed turkey, even longer for eighteen pounds or over, and the longest if it’s over twenty pounds.”

From 1939–41, there was one Thanksgiving for Democrats and another for Republicans a week later. Cinni’s family celebrates the Democrat Thanksgiving, which fell on 23 November in 1939, and was dubbed “Franksgiving” by Republicans (referring to FDR having moved the holiday up one week).

This earlier than usual Thanksgiving was motivated by fears of a very late Thanksgiving negatively affecting Christmas retail sales, in a country still recovering from the Great Depression. In those days, it was very bad form to begin advertising Christmas stuff before Thanksgiving.

Why I don’t do Thanksgiving

Pre-script:  This is not an attempt to try to guilt or shame anyone out of his or her personal customs or views. It’s just my opinion as a lifelong Native American ally. I realize that this holiday represents something positive to those who celebrate it. I will respect your views if you respect mine.

I’ve been a Native American ally almost as long as I can remember, since I first started studying American history in those jingoistic, out of date, one-sided social-studies textbooks most schools are still using. Perhaps because I was already different from the others, I didn’t go along with the spiel the textbooks were trying to indoctrinate into us, that Christopher Columbus was some kind of hero and that the Conquistadores and white settlers had more rights to the land than the people who were already there.

I always felt really bad for how the Native Americans were treated, pushed off of their ancestral lands, given diseases like smallpox (one of those delightful diseases the anti-vaccination cult believes just Magickally, naturally died out at the exact same time the vaccine was introduced), raped, enslaved, and murdered in systematic genocide. Christopher Columbus was one of the most evil people who ever lived, and I have never been okay with the fact that this evil person has his own holiday and is falsely credited as “discovering” America.

Native Americans call Thanksgiving the Day of Mourning, to remember how these early white settlers enslaved and murdered their ancestors. The peace between the Pilgrims (who were religious fanatics, and not everyone on the Mayflower belonged to their church) and the Natives didn’t last very long. A huge majority of the Natives in New England were wiped out in very short time.

There are chapters on this shameful chapter in America’s history in James W. Loewen’s Lies My Teacher Told Me. This material is also covered in Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States. It’s so embarrassing how so many American schools (at least up until college) continue to teach their young, impressionable students from social-studies textbooks that give such a one-sided, Stephen Decaturesque (the “Our country right or wrong!” jingoist) view of American history. In the 21st century, women, Native Americas, the poor and working-class, religious minorities, and African-Americans should not still be largely written out of American history textbooks.

Now, I will not say this to someone who wishes me a Happy Thanksgiving. I’m old enough by now to realize that you pick your arguments, and you don’t get into a heated political or historical debate with someone who was just trying to be nice. But for some people, this day represents something much different than the popular media depicts.