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.