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Thanksgiving
I was going to say that Thanksgiving has always seemed to me to be a bit of a utility outfield holiday, meaning precisely what I mean it to mean when I point at it. But I suppose that's true of any holiday, now that we have moved past holy days. Christmas and Thanksgiving and Hallowe'en, sacred, secular, heathen, profane, they are all now simply times to be good, and nice, (yes, even All Hallow's Eve is a good thing, else why did so many of us carry cardboard UNICEF boxes with us on our candy travels?)

Actually, why should we consider any holiday heathen or profane, when those words are fraught with far too much stupid assumption? The hubris of thinking one's self the bearer of the true faith, say, whilst others must be "not us" and heathen. Silly humans...but that's something for another day....

As I said, I'd originally planned to say one thing, but I find myself saying another, and it is this.

Thanksgiving is of New World provenance, spawned by some historically-suspect garden party between less than wary neighbors and the dodgy church-of-no-fun newcomers who eventually almost removed them from the picture. Like sausage, it isn't something that bears close inspection - dinner followed by war, smallpox, broken promises, forced marches and attempted eradication. Frankly, it's a good thing more of us North Americans have been reminded of that over the past few decades: if I never again see another 4th grade skit with "Puritans" and happy smiling "Indians" clasping hands over  a cardboard turkey, that will be quite satisfactory. Even better if those kids never get taught the accuracy-occluded history that such skits mirrored.

When we down our Puritan hats, though, it doesn't at all mean that we need to abandon Thanksgiving. We are free to make of it what we want. After all, if humans can take specific holy days and smooth their corners, erase their religious edges, so that they are uniformly and generally benevolent, why can't we do more than that?

It gives me pleasure to treat this holiday like lapidary - smoothing it even more until it gleams with new good.

I want to make it a time for me to really appreciate...everything. By appreciate, I mean in a dispassionate way. I want to see, and measure and consider, all those things around me that make my world what it is. Appreciating should mean coming to know something,coming to know it the best that one can. It might be hard, or unhappy, to know things, but it's also wonderful, and exciting, and beautiful.

And that? I can be very thankful for.

And other things, too, you know. I said this elsewhere (hi, LINDA!), but it's how I feel this Thanksgiving, after all the amorphous and pointless high philosophizing is done and gone. May all of your problems be as evanescent as the dew, as passing as a CBS sitcom, as slight as a network honcho's mental prowess. May the good things that come our way be as lasting as friendship, as strengthening as hope and as good for us as a shared belly laugh.

May chocolate never be fattening for us, may booze be likewise, with the added benefit of giving an extra sparkle of an evening - and not a hint of hangover the next day.

May we we dance like Astaire, sing like Ella, write with genius, and think for ourselves.

May we be thankful for family even when they drive us crazy. May we be thankful for our friends even when they don't come around. May we be thankful for our own precious selves, no matter what we think of ourselves - because really, we all rock, and other people really like us. And we're all necessary to make this world better. To make it fantastic.

Comments

( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
maruad
Nov. 22nd, 2007 05:22 pm (UTC)
As I mentioned before on Geri's LJ... Thanksgiving was last month!... And you should know that! ;-)

May you et al have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Best Wishes from the now frozen north (I was wondering when winter would show up).
kaffyr
Nov. 23rd, 2007 07:35 am (UTC)
Yes, I'm lucky - I get to have two Thanksgivings if I want. Just got back from our friend's, and I am...thankful. I wish you retroactively a fantastic Canadian Thanksgiving, and a future-perfect wish for a 2008 Thanksgiving that will warm the cockles of your Canadian heart.
bibliofile
Nov. 22nd, 2007 05:34 pm (UTC)
And we're all necessary to make this world better. To make it fantastic.

Well, yeah. Thank you for this, touching on all the important points, including context.

Appreciating things? Not a bad habit. Being thankful for everyone who has helped people, not just me, no matter what their other failings (darn humans!) may be now or in the future.
kaffyr
Nov. 23rd, 2007 07:37 am (UTC)
Being thankful is tough, and appreciating is tougher. I'm going to keep trying to do it, but I know I won't be successful every day. Like most humans, I'm far more flexible a kvetcher than I am an appreciator.
doclnghair
Nov. 22nd, 2007 05:40 pm (UTC)
To help restoire your faith in thanksgiving plays I reccomend you watch Adams Family Values. While most of the film is a not quite up to par attempt to redo the first flick. The section with Wednesday Adams leading the"Indians" into a wild spree of revenge that is something you have truly wanted to see in these kiddie psuedo historics. My favorite holiday is actually The Winter Solstice Nightwatch. lighting a fire with the last rays of daylight, and holding it going thru the longest night til dawn. Might be the oldest of all holidays and it resonates strongly with me. Inviting folks over for an all night party is a plus in itself.
kaffyr
Nov. 23rd, 2007 07:43 am (UTC)
Heh - yeah, I've seen the movie, and that's a fantastic high point. Not to mention one of the earliest appearances of David Krumholtz, now the star of "Numbers," as Wednesday's boyfriend du camp. The nightwatch holiday sounds as if it could be very affecting.
kaffyr
Nov. 23rd, 2007 07:44 am (UTC)
Ah yes, a tradition for our generation. Heh.
dameruth
Nov. 22nd, 2007 10:06 pm (UTC)
Lovely. I've been getting a lot of either happy-sappy holiday wishes or else "Happy Genocide Day" cynicism (not here on LJ, everyone here is pretty cool -- but in person, and in other fora) . Quite the combo. :/ Thanks for posting something thoughtful that isn't at either extreme!
kaffyr
Nov. 23rd, 2007 07:55 am (UTC)
Thanks for the kind words. I was trying to figure out what I felt about the holiday, and why I felt that way, and this is what came out. And I get a kick out of thinking that no matter how dangerously prone any holiday is to saccharine excess, or the finger pointing and jeering of a jaded generation, we can, you know, do something right with it.
apostle_of_eris
Nov. 23rd, 2007 10:56 am (UTC)
point of information
Smallpox *preceded* the Pilgrims.  One of the main reasons only most of them died instead of all was that there were entire depopulated villages to move into and start replanting the fields of.
I’ve long thought that it’s some sort of benchmark that the Pilgrims came here because they couldn’t get along with the Dutch.  Couldn’t get along with the Dutch!!  wow
kaffyr
Nov. 23rd, 2007 08:51 pm (UTC)
Re: point of information
Well you know what National Lampoon had to say about the Dutch...

Thanks for the information on smallpox; did it simply come over with some of the seasonal fishermen prior to permanent colonization? Yeah, I know, I should check for myself, but I'm such a lazy git. And I suppose my overall point is still relatively strong.
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )

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