As soon as the Halloween candy goes on sale at half-price, the Christmas decorations go up in every store around here. Every store. I kind of hate that Thanksgiving gets blurred over and turned into a kind of gateway holiday to the mass-market binge of Christmas. Don't get me wrong. I love Christmas. I just want to build up slowly, and I don't want to overlook Thanksgiving.
If you're not in the US, you probably have no opinion one way or the other about this holiday. It is based on a quintessentially colonial, religious premise, so it may surprise people to know that I have strong thoughts on the matter, not being much into either colonialism or religion on a regular basis. But here's the thing. This country I live in? Thanksgiving is part of our national history, right or wrong. Other than July 4, Independence Day, this is our most significant national celebration. So celebrate it. Don't overlook the negative history, but instead, reflect for a moment on how things have changed, and what we can do to continue that process.
Thanksgiving is also a harvest festival, something present in so many cultures, and it has evolved into a major feast, one to be shared with families and friends. Don't have family to dine with? Find friends, or visit a soup kitchen or shelter. Plan a meet-up for ex-pats who don't get why everything is closed. Eat turkey or sushi or macaroni and cheese, but take some time to sit down in convivial company, enjoy a meal, and reflect.
What are you thankful for? This may or may not be a religious issue for you, but even if you're not inclined to pray, it's good for the psyche to pause a moment to think about the good things in your life. We all have our ups and downs, and in the normal course of things, we have to focus a lot more on the downs. Thanksgiving is a time to look at the ups and be glad of them.
I'm grateful for two kids who while not perfect, are pretty damn fine. I have an adorable granddaughter, and the best husband in the world. No matter how screwed up everything else gets, I have them. I have an amazing Dad who's 89 and still a vibrant part of my life, and unlike a lot of people, I have wonderful in-laws. I have work I love, and even if the money isn't great, I'm happy to be able to write stories for a living. I have friends who keep me active and laughing. I have a roof over my head and food on the table.
When you start spelling things out, it suddenly seems like an embarrassment of riches. That's the point of Thanksgiving, and the reason why I wait to put up the Christmas lights. Before we dive into a season of shopping and giving and getting, it's very good to stop and think about the things we already have.