I’ve been getting a lot of Thanksgiving wishes while taking incoming tech support calls today at my day job. It got me to thinking about how much I like the holiday. It unites Americans in something unequivocally positive – gratitude. It avoids the overly flashy patriotism of July 4th or the inherent sadness of Memorial Day. It can be a religious holiday for many families, but gratitude doesn’t require being religious. Studies in positive psychology confirm gratitude is good for our mental and even physical health.
There are plenty of things I might change about the world right now, not the least of which being the orange man-child currently making a mockery of both the US Constitution and basic human decency. But I do have to say I’m thankful not to see an orgy of garish, excessive Black Friday sales starting on Thanksgiving night, as in years past. Because Thanksgiving is that rarest of creatures: a holiday that, despite being secular, many people nonetheless still treat as sacred. We come together with our families, even if we don’t personally like them all that much, and try to get in touch with what we’re thankful for from the past year.
While stuffing our faces, naturally. It ain’t really Thanksgiving without the tryptophan hangover after dinner from too much turkey. As much as anything, this holiday is about food. Way, way too much of it.
This year, I am thankful for many things. A steady job I enjoy most of the time. The ability to express myself through blogging, fiction, and game writing. A relationship that challenges and nurtures my soul. How my life looks now, three years after my last manic episode almost wrecked it. And the opportunity to bake gingerbread challah and pumpkin kugel for friends, usually to great fanfare.
When times are good, gratitude makes them shine a little brighter, while also helping to keep us humble. When times are difficult, gratitude can give us the strength to push on anyway. Maybe even to revise the way we see the world a little. I am thankful that Amercans can still wish each other a happy Thanksgiving, without first having to verify each other’s religion, ethnicity, social class, gender, sexual orientation, or political party. I can’t be thankful for white nationalists and their sympathizers, but I can at least be grateful such people are showing their true colors more than in the past. I’m also thankful they have their own Thanksgiving celebrations, where I suppose they hold circle jerks to see who can say “Make America Great Again!” the most times before it’s bukkake time. Everyone’s Thanksgiving traditions are a little bit different.
Gratitude opens us up to experiencing all the world has to offer, and allowing others to do the same. Even if their world looks pretty different from our own. And to that, I raise a big sloppy mug of gravy and cry, “Huzzah!”
If it’s your family that’s difficult, well… I wrote a game for that. It’s called Dirty Laundry, as in “airing your dirty laundry“. It may not help you endure racist uncle Mike, but it should give you some good laughs at his expense later on.
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