Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!
And I extend those greetings even to non-US readers. I’m not going to tell you how to run your business. I’m just saying that it’s weird that so many of you have been eager to embrace our terrible reality TV and our copycat police procedural dramas, but when we lead you to another part of the showroom to sell you on Thanksgiving…suddenly you react like we’re trying to talk you into buying a vacuum with less than a proper amount of suction.
Would you folks at least take home a brochure? It’s an annual non-religious non-gift-giving all-day dinner party with all of your friends and family, where everybody brings something delicious, and you spend the hours after this wonderful meal sitting around watching sports and movies on TV together. We’re tremendously proud of this holiday; we believe that Thanksgiving is beyond any doubt the best holiday we’ve ever made.
We’ve prepared a short video and we’d love to show that to you right now…
[Sequence of Food Network personalities in tailored tee shirts seated in front of a white background, explaining details of Thanksgiving using lightly-technical jargon. They look slightly past the camera and make lots of hand gestures. Occasionally, there are slow panning shots of details of pies and vegetables and a TV remote.]
Just give it some thought. Trust us on this one. Did I mention that it’s always on a Thursday? Guaranteed four-day weekend each and every time…and Wednesday is generally thought to be a writeoff as well.
One of the holiday’s strongest features is the fact that there aren’t any big Thanksgiving songs to speak of. The Broadway musical “Promises, Promises” makes this attempt at scoring a Beloved Holiday Classic payday:
“Promises, Promises” debuted in 1968, in front of the generation of Americans who enthusiastically endorsed and supported a push to become the first nation to land a human being on the Moon. It goes without saying that these people wanted nothing to do with “Turkey Lurkey Time.”
“‘Imi Au Iá ‘Oe” isn’t Thanksgiving-themed. But it’s eminently appropriate.
It’s impossible to predict how a certain piece of music will affect you, or explain why. There’s something about the simplicity and precision of Keola Beamer’s slack key playing that transports me right back to every positive holiday memory from childhood. Specifically, those hours after Thanksgiving dinner, or Christmas dinner, or the unwrapping of presents, or after Mass, when there’s really nothing to do but enjoy hanging around inside a house filled with people you love.
The song is unhurried and beautiful. I think that’s what we all want out of a family holiday.
I wound up buying this song twice. First, as part of the soundtrack to “The Descendants.” After seeing this flick several times on cable, I’ve filed it in the “why the hell wasn’t this movie a big hit?” category. The premise: George Clooney is a wealthy attorney whose family has roots in Hawaii that go back more than a hundred years. While his languishes in a coma due to head injuries she sustained in a recent boating accident, he learns that she had been carrying on an affair and planned to leave him. All the while, he and his many cousins need to figure out what to do with the last huge tract of undeveloped land left from their ancestor’s estate.
The movie pulled into focus something I particularly value in storytelling: a refusal to flinch from the emotional consequences of a situation. Her prognosis is not good. Her husband was already emotionally gutted. Now comes this new information. What does he do? Should he track down the man she hoped to run away with? How does it affect him when her oblivious friends and relatives continue to praise her…perhaps sometimes at his expense? And isn’t all of this irrelevant? He needs to make decisions for her care, and he needs to be the bearer of bad news to all of the people who love her, and he needs to be a good father to his two daughters.
There are moments of humor, for sure. But this isn’t a movie in which he and the Other Man have a wacky fight in her hospital room and then she snaps out of her coma as they’re grabbing bouquets of flowers from around the room and swatting each other with them. This is a movie in which someone deal with betrayal and figure out how to forgive someone whose motives you maybe will never learn and who can never acknowledge the hurt that they inflicted. More than that, it’s about recognizing the need to transcend your personal hurt feelings. It’s not all about him; it’s about him and his wife and their family.
I keep thinking that I’m going to cancel my cable subscription and go completely Internet for my entertainment. The major strike against that choice would be movies like this one. “The Descendants” came and went from theaters quickly and it probably wasn’t strong on my radar to begin with. But if I’m home and trying to kill a couple hours and I recognize the title on my cable lineup? Sure, I’ll tune in…and as often happens, I wind up seeing a beautiful movie that I wind up wanting to buy on disc.
I bought a second copy of this song as part of Keola Beamer’s “White Mountain Journal.” This album features track after track of music like this. A perfect, quiet, thoughtful instrumental shouldn’t be confused with “air pudding.” This isn’t the sort of sound that you put on to cover up the noise of muffled sounds of the neighbors next door. It’s an enzyme for quiet appreciation. Some music is “get up and dance” stuff. This is “Sit down and reflect.” It draws your attention until it’s the totality of your awareness, like a fire in a hearth.
Preview “‘Imi Au Iá ‘Oe” on the Amazon MP3 Store. Anything you buy on Amazon.com during that visit will result in my receiving a small kickback in the form of store credits, which I promise to spend on heroically silly things. So thanks for clicking!
You can check out previous seasons of my Amazon Advent Calendar picks under this link.