Happy Thanksgiving to all my fellow Americans, and, to all my fellows who are not Americans, Happy Thursday!
Here is a story I wrote when Paul Molyneux claimed that you couldn’t make money off a holiday devoted to family and gratitude.
The Cautionary Tale of Silas Rockport
by Marian Allen
Silas Rockport was the King of Thanksgiving. He began with Happy Thanksgiving Day cards (Traditional and Spiritual at first, followed by Contemporary and Humorous). Then, reasoning that atheists had no emotional investment in Thanksgiving, and vegetarians had no gustatory investment in Turkey Day, he instigated and funded a grass-roots campaign to conceptualize the celebration as Togetherness Day. He pushed it all over the world, as an exotic import from the swinging but oh-so-sentimental USA.
The Togetherness Day cards were a big hit, and so were the matching paper napkin/plate/tablecloth sets, hot-‘n’-cold cups sold separately. He did a big business in fragile centerpieces that only lasted a couple of years, but a soul-less rival came up with fragile-looking plastic ones that were indestructible, and Silas lost most of his market share.
That was when he had his first brainstorm: edible centerpieces for Thanksgiving/Turkey/Togetherness Day. The centerpieces–no! the masterpieces!–were spun of irradiated vegetable matter (artificial color and flavoring added) and came in a variety of styles and prices. One of the most popular was Autumn Leaves, made of cranberry sauce (red), buttery mashed potatoes (pale gold), sweet potatoes (deep gold), turkey–marinated tofu for the vegetarians–(brown)and pumpkin pie (orange). The higher-priced model sat on a revolving music box which played “September Song,” which wasn’t very appropriate, title-wise, but was all about the autumn leaves, and nobody ever remembered the real title, anyway.
His second brainstorm came after he had read, with mounting fury, a series of grateful letters from satisfied customers, telling him that they loved his company’s paper and plastic products so much they treated them gently, washed them carefully, and used them year after year with the pride of tradition. He knew that making a shoddier product would only alienate his market base, so they had him by the short hairs, there. Then it hit him–make the intended disposable products edible, too! He’d like to see them re-use something little Johnny had taken a great big slobbery bite out of!
The new items took off like wild turkeys. As the old paper and plastic goods eventually did wear out, the old customers bought into the new paradigm and, each year, the goods that weren’t eaten were run through paper shredders and given to the dogs. “Just like at that First Glorious Get-Together!” dewy-eyed people in commercials said, as music swelled and they choked back their humble tears.
Next, he launched a line of Togetherness Day action figures: Pilgrims, Indians, log cabins, scale model of Plymouth Rock, rustic tables, loseable and replaceable plastic foods, deluxe set includes your choice of Pilgrim or Indian costume in S, M, L, or XL, specify boy or girl. A Saturday morning action-hero cartoon show naturally followed, with a muscular John Smith, an equally muscular Powhaton, and warrior-babe Pocahontas uniting to fight the forces of Evil throughout the universe. The movie broke sales records on its opening weekend.
The rest of the story is free at Paul Molyneux’ Laughter Loaf web site, or you can buy a copy of the Southern Indiana Writers Group’s anthology, HOLIDAY BIZARRE. For more free stories, visit my Free Reads page.
A WRITING PROMPT FOR YOU: Send a character home for a harvest festival.