There is a host of reasons folks have trotted out in recent years to be disdainful of our tradition of Thanksgiving:
- The way we celebrate has little in common with the way the original settlers celebrated.
- It’s a celebration of gluttony.
- It’s a celebration of genocide.
- We don’t focus enough on the giving thanks part.
- It’s too religious.
- It’s not religious enough.
- It’s hypocritical (see genocide above).
- It’s wasteful.
- It’s cruel to turkeys, and pigs, and probably pumpkins and sweet potatoes and green beans, too.
- We don’t need a whole holiday to eat too much and fall asleep in front of the football game.
- It’s bad for the environment, what with everybody traveling and all.
- It’s become an excuse to expand the already hyper-commercialized Christmas season (everybody’s favorite holiday for complaining about).
All valid points, from one point of view or another.
I like Thanksgiving, myself, and I can’t make myself care too deeply about all the reasons not to. See, I think any excuse to get the whole family together and try to shift the focus, even just for a day, from what we hate about the world to what we’re thankful for has got to be worth the effort. For me, it’s not about what happened or didn’t happen four hundred years ago. It’s not about wasting time or food, or watching football, or getting started on my Christmas shopping (although my wife probably wishes I’d spend more time on that part). It’s about being together with people I love and focusing on why I’m glad they’re in my life.
Today, I’m thankful to be surrounded by people I love. I’m thankful for plenty and prosperity and I don’t feel the least bit guilty for saying so. I’m thankful I have cancer today instead of twenty years ago. I’m thankful for all who answer a calling: priests and ministers, doctors, nurses, firefighters, police, engineers, soldiers and sailors and airmen and marines, artists and writers and filmmakers. I’m thankful to be a writer in the age of the Internet. I’m thankful for friends who aren’t threatened or afraid to hear that I love them or to tell me they love me. I’m thankful for an incredible, supportive wife and partner, and for two great kids who are growing into great young adults as I watch.
Most of all, I’m thankful for another year to enjoy it all.