Thanksgiving Cannot Be Canceled
We have never needed it more.
Thanksgiving has been my favorite holiday since I became an adult. In fact, it’s not really close. I like Christmas, but the stress, the gift getting pressure, the massive social obligations, the decorating, and the depression when it is over (and winter really begins) takes me out of the moment. I enjoy the spiritual side of Easter, but it is not a universal holiday (and again there is the commercialization). July 4th has lost some of its luster for me with the politicizing now. So it’s been Thanksgiving. No gifts, no real commercialization and small get togethers. I enjoy spatchcocking a turkey or making some quality rolls. I like eating. This year, everything has a different feel, however. In years past, Thanksgiving has come and gone pretty quietly, often slowly drowning in the onrush of Christmas and Black Friday. This year we need Thanksgiving more than we ever have.
When I say we cannot cancel Thanksgiving, I am not talking about ignoring get-together limits that are being encouraged (or even mandated) in places. How many people you have in your home is not the point of Thanksgiving, and no one needs to risk their life for that. I am also not talking about the drive I have seen in recent years to declare Thanksgiving as a fraud. In some circles, there has been a drive to push the narrative that the first Thanksgiving never happened and it was created to wash over the cruel treatment of natives by the European colonizers. I recognize the troubling history of our native and colonial ancestors. I am a major supporter of learning more about indigenous peoples. I also recognize that we NEED to celebrate any positivity we can in our relationship with native peoples and push to develop that relationship in a positive way moving forward (if you can, try to learn something new about native peoples in your area this season). Whether or not Thanksgiving really happened, the idea that some colonial ancestors had positive relationships with natives is not fake, and it needs to be the standard we pursue. This is still not the cancellation I am referring to, however. I am talking about the cancellation of thankfulness.
I have seen a ton of (very funny) “2020 is the worst” jokes on the internet. I get it. It hasn’t been a great year for me. It has been a LOT worse for many others. So many people have died from Coronavirus (again, especially with the elderly, please be responsible with your gatherings) and many others have lingering illness and symptoms. No matter what your political persuasion, it is likely you didn’t get what you wanted this year. I know I didn’t. If you are religious, you have probably had more difficulty than ever experiencing it. No matter what job you do (stay at home parent is a job too), you have probably faced new challenges, and for many, they have lost their job. Parenting has been VERY challenging. Financially the pandemic has been disastrous for so many. And these are just the tip of the iceberg. There are also the regular challenges life brings that we all know. With all of this, it has never been more important to take a step back and find something in your life to be thankful for.
I am not speaking to you as someone who has lived a charmed life. I have faced my share of great pain and hurt. I know that there are things that make you want to live in sadness or escape. Depression has skyrocketed as people are trapped in their homes, or face any of the numerous problems noted above. I know that you could be feeling that this year doesn’t warrant any thanks. The reason to find some this year is to hold back those demons. If you cannot search your heart, and life, and find things to be grateful for, your suffering will only grow. Thankfulness is medicine. It won’t cure the bad things that are hurting you, but it will provide some seasonal relief.
Take the time this year to be truly thankful for something. Allow yourself a full day to contemplate things you can be grateful for. There might not be much. Maybe just one or two things for you. Maybe a lot more once you get started. Avoid escapism. The football games are bad. The Christmas season will still be there Friday. So will the deals. Sit in this day and experience it like you never have before. We have never needed the Spirit of Thanksgiving more than this year.