Thursday, November 26, 2015

In Thanks

I love Thanksgiving.  I didn't when I was younger.  I loved getting out of school and eating all the good food but other than that it seemed like kind of a letdown, particularly when compared to Christmas.  It was sort of Christmas's annoying step-sibling, too full of football (which I didn't care about) and too much waiting to suit me.

But now?  Now, it has become one of my favorite holidays.  It's still not quite up there with Christmas (the lights! the cookies! the music!--yes, I'm one of those sick people who loves Christmas music) but it's safe to say that Thanksgiving is my second favorite holiday.  Which is why I'm so disturbed that it gets shunted aside and ignored all the damn time.  War on Christmas, you say?  NO.  There's a war on freaking Thanksgiving, which has now become not a national day of thanks so much as a prelude to Black Friday.  That has become the true holiday for this weekend, and it's a shame.  One company has even started the hashtag "Thanksgetting".  BASTARDS.  Way to take a wonderful holiday and try to make it about the complete opposite thing.
Now, to be clear, I'm not necessarily opposed to Black Friday.  Fine, I understand they have great deals on stuff.  I don't participate myself, but I can see the appeal.  HOWEVER, when people are being trampled and even dying in search of deals, when Black Friday is encroaching on Thanksgiving so that many, many people who have to work those stores can't even enjoy the time with family, and when we forget the very meaning of the holiday we're celebrating because we're too busy scoping out "deals", that pisses me off.  Stop forgetting Thanksgiving!  Stop treating it as a day that means nothing but turkey!  It is a day to be thankful, and frankly I don't know a single person (including myself) who a) couldn't use a little more gratitude in their life and b) doesn't have a metric shitfuckton to be thankful for.
There are so many articles about how this country is turning into a bunch of narcissists, and research backs them up.  And yet, we ignore the one holiday which grounds us, which reminds us of all we have and all we should be thankful for.  It is the antidote to narcissism but it is constantly, conveniently, shunted aside.  Why should we be thankful when there's just one more thing to buy?  Then we'll be happy and give thanks, right?  After we splurge and treat ourselves.  Hmm, maybe after the post-splurge treat?  Because you'll need another treat after so bravely facing off against all those other shoppers and getting the best deals.  You've earned a reward!  Ugh, but we still can't be thankful because then you have to wrap all those gifts, and distribute them, and make cards and...when does it end, precisely?  And how is this adding any joy to the holidays?  Perhaps, and I might be crazy here, but just maybe some of the crazy amounts of stress most people say they feel around the holidays could be mitigated if they actually took a few moments to slow down and be thankful.
I do realize that for our economy to run, particularly in the way it's currently set up, people need to buy things and money needs to be spent.  However, can we please instill a little sanity back into this picture and concede that perhaps for one fucking day, our economy will be just fine if people take a moment to look around at what they already have and be happy about it?
There's been a lot for me to complain about lately.  I'm frustrated and, often, unhappy with where my life is right at this exact moment.  I want things too!  I want to travel, I want a home of my own, I want I want I want I want.  The litany of all the things I don't have goes through my head daily, like an annoyingly whiny younger sister who just won't shut up.  What has helped the most is simply to take a deep breath and remind myself of all that I have, which is more than most of the world can boast of.  Sure, there are frustrations to be dealt with, and realizing that others have it worse off is not meant to diminish my own hardships--just because others have it worse doesn't mean my stress and frustration aren't legitimate or worthy.  But it does add some perspective, so instead of grousing about what's wrong with my life, I find myself more thankful for what I do have instead.  And when I do that, it makes me happier overall.  I stop getting annoyed by the petty, small things because they just don't matter.

Today, I will be celebrating with some of the things I love the most: time with friends and family.  Good food and the preparation of it will, of course, be a big part of that.  I already took my daughter to the park, but we'll go outside to play again when she's up from her nap.  We'll listen to some music, watch some football (which I don't mind so much now), maybe play a game, and at the end of the night I'll go for a bike ride with family and friends. Sounds like a pretty perfect day, and not one second of it will be spent thinking about all the things I don't have.
I wish the same joy to you today, and all through the coming holiday season.

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