In place of my annual Black Friday rant about corporate greed, bad behavior and misplaced priorities, which now extends to Thanksgiving Day, I’m going to take a more positive route and talk about why I, and many others feel so strongly about this holiday.
While we all know that the story we were taught in school about the friendly pilgrims and indigenous peoples isn’t how the first Thanksgiving really went down, it doesn’t mean that it’s not worth celebrating.
OK, this clip from the Addams Family movie isn’t accurate either, it’s hilarious and I just love to watch it every year.
All kidding aside, the ideas behind Thanksgiving, gratitude and sharing are pretty darn awesome.
Oh yeah… and FOOD! Who doesn’t like food?
But what about that first thanksgiving and should we really be playing into it?
In a recent article published by Indian Country Today Media Network, Ramona Peters, the historical preservation officer for the Wampanoag Nation dispelled some myths about that first Thanksgiving.
When asked if she considers Thanksgiving a positive thing, she replied, “As a concept, a heartfelt Thanksgiving is very important to me as a person. It’s important that we give thanks. For me, it’s a state of being. You want to live in a state of thanksgiving, meaning that you use the creativity that the Creator gave you. You use your talents. You find out what those are and you cultivate them and that gives thanks in action.“
And yes, she celebrates it.
Thanksgiving, unlike less secular holidays doesn’t bring up a bunch of religious debate. There’s no “war on Thanksgiving” (see comments from a descendant of those who were there above) there’s no requirement to go into debt and spend stupid amounts of money on items people don’t need in order to impress the neighbors.
We all eat, and sharing a meal makes it even better. Thanksgiving meals need not be expensive. If you like traditional fare, turkey is actually pretty cheap as are the side dishes. (and if you’re against turkey genocide, there’s tofurkey)
The focus on family, friends and gratitude it what draws me to this holiday.
It is far too easy to get caught up in the sadness, stress and challenges of our daily lives and the world beyond.
It is far too easy to forget what is good in our lives.
It is far too easy to forget to tell people how much they mean to us.
Thanksgiving is a chance to remember and celebrate the good.
We all have our own memories of the Thanksgivings we celebrated growing up. Oddly enough, in the dysfunctional house I grew up in, holidays were actually happy and not stressful unlike most of the rest of the year.
Thanksgiving in the early 70’s involved laying around after eating too much and watching the Twilight Zone Marathon. (you millennials can google that if you need to) It also involved me getting a few sips of champagne and getting yelled at for putting the olives on my fingers. I remember learning how to make the lead crystal glasses “sing” by dipping my finger in water and running it along the rim. I have those glasses (I still stick olives on my fingers too)
To this day, it still involves tuning in to a local radio station at noon to listen to Alice’s Restaurant.
and it wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without revisiting the now classic WKRP in Cincinnati “Turkey Drop”
As we grow older, move away from or lose our families, we begin to create our own traditions.
An increasingly popular trend is “Friendsgiving” either before, after or on the actual date. I have hosted my “Day After Thanksgiving Feast/Anti Black Friday Protest” for the last twelve years. I love doing it on Friday so more people can come. It also gives me the day of to “party hop” at other people’s events.
It is a commonly held belief that the expression of gratitude can boost one’s mood and outlook on life. That’s a good thing, especially up here in the cold, dark Pacific Northwest where seasonal affective disorder begins to manifest at this time of year.
For me, cooking a meal and sharing it with friends and chosen family is a show of gratitude for them being in my life, it’s a small way to give back. It’s a positive, happy thing; don’t we all need a bit more of that in our lives?