U.S. holiday traditions odd, illogical

Returning from a wonderful time of family gathering and football watching during the Thanksgiving break, I found myself questioning the function of America’s holiday traditions. When boiled down to the basics, some behavior deemed normal during our most celebrated days seems downright unusual.

Let’s start with Halloween.

You get decked out as a pirate, a ghost or Superman to beat on the doors of strangers, demanding candy and threatening a trick if said goodies are not handed over promptly.

First of all, this conflicts with everything your mother used to tell you. Remember when she told you not to talk to strangers?

Well, I guess she thought you would infer that it’s also wrong to beg them for sweets.

Imagine if this holiday didn’t exist.

A guy dressed as Batman roaming the streets in search of treats and tricking those who didn’t comply would not only be deemed insane by onlookers, but he would probably spend the latter hours of the night in jail, begging that his cellmate quit using his cape as a tissue.

Also, what if someone doesn’t have anything to offer on All Hallows Eve? What sort of a trick would this mandate?

Would a simple kick to the shin suffice, or should the trick be more sophisticated, like the old flaming bag of dog poop gag?

If a candy-less stranger isn’t somehow tricked, then it’s an empty threat, and the whole meaning of trick-or-treating is thus voided.

Next there’s Thanksgiving.

We show our thanks to our pilgrim forefathers by cooking and devouring a gigantic bird.

As if the treatment of this poor turkey wasn’t harsh enough already, before the chompfest begins, for some reason we feel it is necessary to stuff the poor bird’s butt with some mushy yellowish bread substance that looks as if it has been partially digested.

At least we have the decency to wait until the bird is dead to do this.

Rather than remembering our blessings, we turn ourselves into 24-hour gluttons, cramming our faces full of sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, stuffing and rolls until we’re stuffed fuller than that sad turkey.

And then there’s the pie.

Even though your pant button just ricocheted off the chandelier, you’ll still eat that delicious slice – or two or three – of cherry, pecan or pumpkin goodness.

My question: What does this have to do with thankfulness?

If stuffing our guts means we are giving thanks, then Thanksgiving must occur far more often than once realized, like every time you set foot in a Chinese buffet.

After Thankgiving, we’re on the fast track to Christmas, yet another holiday with utterly baffling traditions.

Each year, Christian families worldwide chop down evergreens in order to wrap them up in lights and shiny balls and bows.

Did Jesus have an unhealthy obsession with decorating pine trees? I fail to see the connection.

Another tradition I have never understood the relevance of is gift giving. It’s Jesus’ birthday, so what does that have to do with buying little Jimmy the Playstation 3 he’s been begging you for each time you drive past Toys R’ Us? If anyone gets some presents shouldn’t it be the birthday boy?

Don’t get me wrong; some of my fondest memories are of the times spent celebrating with loved ones.

I love the holidays.

I just don’t understand them.

Michael Best is a senior news-editorial journalism major from Longview.