Tetons, Parades, Pets
I am writing this on Thanksgiving Day, after a pretty fantastic Morning Meeting. Thanksgiving is a mythological day, celebrating some extremly terrible stuff including Manifest Destiny and Colonizing a land that was, frankly, already happily filled with people. I mention this, in case you didn’t know which you probably did, if you are reading my work, but if you weren’t aware of the histories behind Thanksgiving, you can look here, here, or here. I’ll wait. I don’t mind.
The big parade is on. You know the one. I used to call it the “Macy’s Day Parade” because it was such a ridiculous embrace of consumerism and the very mythologies that make up the day. I mean, part of me, the part that grew up in 70’s America, just loves it. Its a bananas epic, theatrical, and televisual production, which probably is planned 18 months in advance, with a team of thousands. Parades are wild (and I got to be in a few and they were fun and exhausting and I loved it). The level of coordination they take is magnificent and there is probably a team of line producers, coodinators, and set directors, all popping antacids and looking like Chip from The Morning Show. What can I say, I have a producer’s heart, and I love a production. That shit is wild and I love it.
The main reason I loved the parade as a kid was two-fold. One, I loved (and still love) Broadway musicals. And the parade is FULL of them. It was the closest my small town ass was gonna get to the Great White Way, that parade. Each year I’d watch in great anticipation of which shows would be featured and I’d imagine myself in them, performing. I also loved the parade because holidays were one day that my family tried really hard to get along (which didn’t always happen anyway because by the end of a long day of cooking and drinking — mimosas! Wine! Baileys in the coffee! — things could wind up getting weird).
So as my mother and I would cook, we’d watch the parade and I’d look forward to the huge gathering at my Aunt’s house, this gorgeous Georgian home, with so many stragglers and friends and amazing dishes. I looked forward to that day much of the fall, not for the American mythology (save the Broadway component) but my own mythology about family and love and what was possible, even if it did run out of gas at the post prandial fights. Thanksgiving, then, kicked off a whole set of frivolous and wonderful mythological rituals in my family.
One of them, which I’m happy to talk about here? Trees, and decorating them. My mother had an old very slightly mildewed plastic tree which she kept because she insisted that I was allergic to real trees, when actually I’m quite sure I had reactions to the smell of her tree, no matter how brightly decorated with colored lights it was it was a health hazard.
Mostly I think she couldn’t stomach dealing with the inevitable droppage of needles and also once she DID get a real tree and our cat, Patches, pooped underneath it and from that point on it was a plastic tree all the way.
My Aunt though, she always got a very tall and delicate fir, which was always decorated with white lights and looked, to me, angelic. She had a stairwell adorned with garland and poinsettias. Her house was beautiful during the holiday and the old Georgian house, in historic Five Points, Athens, was to me what the holidays should look like.
In any case, Thanksgiving isn’t what people think it is, and it’s a mess and I’m just thinking about what I’ve taken from it, which mostly is that alcohol seems like it would help family gatherings go smoothly, but usually doesn’t, real trees are better than fake ones, Broadway musicals are super amazing, and America is a mess.
I mentioned that we had a great Morning Meeting, and what the hell is that? Well, its first thing in the morning, where my husband and I (and our pets, noted above) have coffee and talk about pretty much everything that’s going on. The kids, when they were little, joined us. Now that the kids are both over 6 feet tall, it’s the pets. They all come in and jump on the bed and gather with us and we talk. Read the news. Check in on social media, and we talk about it all. So I’m going to report on them here because frankly, I don’t have a real focused thru-line in my writing, other than I am tired of not writing without a focus so the focus is just gonna be a synthesis of things I care about.
The other thing that came up this morning, silly as it is, is that after a cup or two of some really strong joe, the eldest came in and said…”Can you imagine the conversation that happened to name the Grand Tetons, the Grand Tetons?” And then I did imagine that conversation and I supposed that there were a bunch of folks coming up after “exploring” the continent (see the aforementioned terrible and unjust colonization) and all they could think about was boobs? Apparently so!
“The Tetons received their name from French-Canadian trappers who accompanied the earliest British expeditions into this territory. As they approached the range from the west, they beheld three towering mountains upon which they bestowed the name of “Trois Tetons” (“Three Breasts”)…the Tetons were variously known as “The Three Brothers,” “The Hoaryheaded Fathers,” and “Tee Win-at,” meaning “The Pinnacles.” The earliest Americans in the region, being more practical than romantic, could find no better name for the silvery spires than “The Pilot Knobs,” while an official Hudson’s Bay Company map indicates with equal homeliness, “The Three Paps.” The name “Three Tetons” survived, however, and was officially recognized by cartographers. The name first appeared publicly in the Bonneville Map of 1837.”
Breasts might be mythological fonts of life to some, but why not just use the blessed original names that were already there? “We found them, we are renaming them” Breasts are wonderful things. Being honest about our mythologies is as well.
The Fraggles are on the TV now, and I am still craving ritual and mythos. and I’m lucky to be in a place in my life where I’m literally connected to real trees, real theatre, and real awareness about how to build better myths, better leadership, better structures.
May we all continue to wake, continue to act, and continue to do better. It matters.
Until the next time,
Have a good morning.