In order to avoid stepping on someone else’s title (that of “myth busters”), I shall instead call this Public Service Announcement:
(or, It Wasn’t My Intention to Render Your Childhood a Complete Sham)
Deception: Chewing gum stays in your digestive tract for years. Truth is, gum takes longer to digest, but it breaks down like any food substance would in the digestive tract. Besides, if someone was cut open and gum was found, who’s to say how long it had been in there? It would make me wonder how they knew that Uncle Phil chewed gum seven years before he died. Is there a carbon-dating process for Bazooka?
Instead, doctors say that the old husbands’ tale likely started with parents scaring their children into not swallowing it. I don’t worry about the digestion part of it; it’s the ooky factor that gets me. Like…why don’t you tear the eraser off this pencil here and swallow it.
Deception: Eating turkey makes you sleepy. People have long insisted that the tryptophan in turkey meat makes people drowsy. In fact, I believed it, too.
However, according to modern scientists and the medical community, it is likely the size of the holiday meal altogether — and its effects on insulin and the decrease in oxygenation of blood flow to the brain — that makes people want to nap after a huge turkey feast.
And speaking of turkeys…
Deception: The first Thanksgiving at Plymouth Colony was a brotherly gesture by the Pilgrims to reach out to their neighbors, the “friendly savages” of the Wampanoag tribe. Ha. Sorry, kids. According to Chuck Larsen, who researched and wrote extensively about Thanksgiving because he was an Ojibwa and Iroquois Indian teaching in an American elementary school (and therefore uncomfortable with the whole Thanksgiving charade in the schools), it was the Indians who actually provided much of the food for the feast. And the “peaceful Pilgrim” thing was basically a myth as well, for the Puritans who came over from England were largely religious nuts, political wackjobs and garden-variety hooligans who couldn’t get along in daily society. Many were intent on overthrowing the English government (and actually did). Indeed, against their strange Indian “friends,” they plotted thusly:
“The Indians were comparatively powerful, and therefore dangerous; they were to be courted until the next ships arrived with more Pilgrim colonists and the balance of power shifted.” *
And shift it did. Over the next forty years or so, almost all the Native Americans in New England were either exterminated, banished (many were refugees to Canada), or sold into slavery. Happy Thanksgiving, here’s a musket up your nose. Nice.
But, so I don’t completely dash to the pavement every childhood memory you ever held close to your heart: Yes, Virginia, there IS a Santa Claus.
Heh. Fink out.
* “Teaching About Thanksgiving,” Tacoma School District, Washington, 1986. Other source: LiveScience.com.