Despite my new medication, I almost lost my mind last night and wrote something about religion to post in this space. If I’d done it, I’m not sure how things would have turned out for me afterwards. A scriptural phrase might describe it well—something like “lamentation.” Yep, I think I’d have a lot of lamentation going on today if I’d gone whirling into a religious discussion.

My dad told me that you’ll never change anyone’s mind about politics or religion by talking to them. That’s not entirely true. Through religious debate I’ve changed people’s minds from liking me to wanting to torture me to death in ways that would make an Apache blush. As I get older I find that I care less about whether people hate me, but I don’t try as hard to make them hate me, either. Wisdom of Age? Cowardice of Age? Maybe it’s the Seems-Like-Too-Damn-Much-Work of Age.

Maybe I hold radical religious beliefs, but I’m not radical about them. I intended to tell you the “Cucumber Story,” and the story about “The Ant, the Flower, and the Bottle of Vodka.” These are stories of compassion and insight that would immediately make a lot of people hate me worse than syphilis. That’s far too much work.

I considered trying to be humorous and sarcastic to share my thoughts on religion. Then I remembered Niccolo Machiavelli, an Italian fellow who wrote The Prince long ago and whom history has ever since kicked in the nuts for being a very bad man who advocated awful things. The funny thing is that Machiavelli loved democracy, republicanism, and the judgment of the people. Most of his writing shows it. But for what I’m sure seemed wonderful reasons at the time, he wrote The Prince, a manual for despots who want to get and keep absolute power. It coaches them on how to behave worse than a demon with crotch rot in order to do it. But he wrote it as a satire. He didn’t mean it. It was okay if the bad people thought he was serious, but everybody else was supposed to get the sarcasm and see how much he really hated despotism.

Niccolo, I’ve got to tell you—a lot of people just don’t get sarcasm. Now everybody thinks you’re a hideous bastard. Sorry, dude.

I don’t need that either. So, this chat is mainly religion-free. I’m trying to swear off hate, although I did yell at the nice Time Warner salesman at our door when he kept pushing after the fourth “no.” I think I hit the wall, too. Scared the crap out of my wife. So I’m going to take a deep breath, go somewhere quiet, and engage in my own, private religious/non-religious practices. And eat ice cream.

I was going to show a picture of Machiavelli, but he’s as ugly as a stump. I’m pimping out this picture of cute puppies instead to get more people to read this.

Photo by DannaCaterina245 via Wikimedia Commons.

Dear Mr. Thanksgiving Turkey,

Greetings. You don’t know me, but I’m the guy who told Santa Claus to kiss my ass in September. Sadly, when I sent him a Halloween card it came back with the address scratched out, and scrawled in crayon on the envelope was: “North Pole melted. Elves eaten by polar bears. Screw off.” It’s all terribly sad.

I have a proposition, Mr. Turkey. I’m sure you’re aware that Thanksgiving sucks. I hate to be blunt, but why pretend? Your holiday is mainly about football and food, which we’ve already got every Sunday from August to February. You also feature dinner with family members who ruined our childhoods, a parade with giant blow up animals that frankly give people nightmares, and shopping on the day after Thanksgiving to buy presents for a far superior holiday, rendering your holiday forgotten and completely pointless. I’m saying these things with love, but I hope I’ve made my point.

You have an image problem. Compare your “football and food” approach to Halloween’s “eat candy and dress like a Shanghai prostitute” theme. Or compare it to the Christmas motif of “rake in free stuff and pretend you love your fellow man when in fact you parked in the handicapped spot at the liquor store.” Your holiday doesn’t resonate with people. It bores them. Hell, you’re so boring that they eat turkey and then fall asleep. Again, said with love.

We need to repackage you and change your image, Mr. Turkey. You’ve got a hidden strength, which is the word “thanks.” People like it—who doesn’t like to be thanked? But you’re not specific enough with it. You say we’re being thankful for the good things in our lives, and that’s wonderful. But can we sell peanut butter candy in “good things in our lives” shapes? No—specificity is what we need.

So, think thankful. What specifically are we all thankful for? Not militant protestant white guys with huge belt buckles on their hats, I’ll tell you that for sure. We are all thankful for—puppies! People adore puppies, and that will be the secret of your success. No more can-shaped cranberry sauce and ugly wreaths with dead leaves. Instead we’ll have sweet, floppy, nap-taking, ball-chasing puppy dogs, and that’s what Thanksgiving will be all about.

Everything will change for you. People won’t sit around stuffing their faces and farting on the couch until halftime. Instead they’ll bring their puppies over to grandma’s house, and everyone will play with the puppies! There’ll be puppy cards, puppy lawn art, puppy-shaped cakes, gifts for your puppy, stories and songs and TV shows and podcasts about puppies. People will not be able to resist—heck, they already go crazy for stuff with puppies on it, and there’s not even a holiday for it yet!

The best part is the lack of waste. After other holidays you’re throwing out pumpkins and trees and leftovers. But nobody but a sick creep throws away a puppy. They keep that puppy, and it grows into a beloved, walking, barking, backyard-littering billboard for your holiday. Christmas cannot begin to aspire to that kind of advertising—who wants a reindeer curled up at their feet as they watch reruns of Will and Grace?

Mr. Turkey, I know that you may feel threatened, since you’ve been the face of Thanksgiving for so long. But we have a place for you. Think what a hit you’ll be in your own commercial with a collar and floppy ears, trying to bark and eat a cow hoof. People will die—it’ll go viral on YouTube the first day!

So please consider my proposition, Mr. Turkey. I think we can accomplish great things together, and the nation will be happier on many levels if we succeed. Your holiday will no longer be the beat-up Yugo of holidays. It will be the Lamborghini of holidays, and you will be racing it down the highway of American culture. With a whole lot of ears and tongues flapping out the windows.
Seriously - isn't this better than yams?
Reprinted from Bring Us The Head Of The Velveteen Rabbit, available at Amazon and at Barnes and Noble.