Monday, November 24, 2014

Thanksgiving: Yes Virginia... It is a Real Important Holiday....And the Food!!!

A few days ago a friend I was out with made mention that she was getting overwhelmed by the holidays and all the flurry around them. She then said "As soon as December starts it's all over for me". I looked at her and said well, this week is Thanksgiving aren't you already a little overwhelmed. To which she replied, "Oh Thanksgiving isn't a real holiday". "It's just a day that people overeat and then sit around wishing they were dead and undoing their pants, while they watch sports".

I was shocked but as I asked around what people thought of this line of thinking, several concurred. They thought of Thanksgiving as a non significant holiday and a tradition celebrating American gluttony. I was actually shocked by this. I mean not one of them said, "I don't celebrate Thanksgiving". Not one of them said, "I am not going to overeat and sit around and watch the game". But it was more that none of it had any meaning for them that made me really shocked. I mean, if there if a real American holiday, it would be Thanksgiving in my book.

Not even the Fourth of July has as much clout for me. Thanksgiving is the original day set aside to remember how blessed we are not only in this land but in our lives. The fourth commemorates our country's independence and individual liberty. Thanksgiving commemorates our Country's very survival and Being as well as our individual and collective happiness. If the Pilgrims had not survived the winter and stayed the course in settling here. There would be no USA, no fourth of July, nothing we know as our country would be here.

Is it a made up holiday as we know it today? Absolutely it is! But what holiday isn't. The importance of any holiday depends on what meaning we attach to it. So that is what I set out to think about for myself and the following is what I discovered.

Thanksgiving means many things to many people. For me it is perhaps my favorite holiday. Bigger than Christmas, Easter, New Years, Halloween, etc. etc. And not just because of the food element although of course for me that plays a big roll. The reason it is my favorite holiday is because it makes me stop and ponder such questions as, where am I in my life and the process of living it? Am I happy? Who is important to me? Who do I love and how am I showing it? Who do I remember as being important to me in my past? And Who came before me and made all this possible? What memories and stories of those who came before me do I have? Am I aware of being grateful to them? Am I aware that because of them I have a better life? Am I loving those who are present in my life not just on this day, but everyday?

Thanksgiving is a looking back holiday yes, however it should also be a looking at the now holiday. It is in short a national day of reflection. Reflection over what we have. What we have been given. What we are grateful for and why. It is also a nod to the past. And all those who made it possible for us to enjoy what we have today. It sort of rolls the intention behind all national holidays into one, Memorial Day, Labor Day, The 4th of July, Veterans Day and so forth. Not because those should not be celebrated separately, but because all of them are about gratitude. And Thanksgiving is ultimately about gratitude.

So if Thanksgiving is about more than just national gratitude, how do we make it personal. Well we can make it about being together with people we love and care about. We can make it about celebrating family and friends. Maybe just maybe it's about taking a day and instead of looking at the glass as being half empty, choosing to look at it as half full. In short affirming the positive and the uplifting and sidestepping for a day the temptation to compare and despair and be resentful about anything.

And of course Thanksgiving is about food and bounty and celebrating that bounty. However, I think it's important to recognize that the original intention of celebrating bounty by the Pilgrims was to celebrate having survived a grim and deadly Winter and a hard year. It was not about excess. It was about working through whatever obstacles were in the way. It was perhaps the celebration of the original American work ethic and celebrating the fruits of that ethic. The same work ethic that has been driving this country ever since. Work hard, reap rewards and give back. Those values continue today.
So I think Thanksgiving should be a very meaningful holiday to us as Americans. Not only on a national level but also very much on an individual level.

So this year as you are sitting down to your feast in whatever fashion you might do that. Eating to much and watching the game. Gathering with family and friends maybe, or even just by yourself. Take a moment to be grateful.  Give thanks for something that means something to you. Make it personal and make it positive. Let go of fear, doubt, resentment, and anger for one afternoon and look at whatever God, the Universe or higher power energy you might believe in hath done. Acknowledge that just for you. And be grateful. Peace Ya'll!!

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