Wednesday, November 22, 2006


Tomorrow is my favorite holiday.

Well, of course, Heather. No surprise there. It’s dedicated to one of your favorite pastimes: Eating.

True. Food is a big part of it; it’s an easy joke I’ve used repeatedly over the years.

But my love for Thanksgiving goes beyond Jim’s grilled-to-perfection turkey and my semi-famous sage sausage stuffing.
From hardcore fundie Christians to secular humanists, all of us can get our arms around setting aside one day out of the year to be grateful for the good in our lives.

Thanksgiving. Rooted in a religious harvest tradition, it was transformed into a national holiday by Abraham Lincoln via a largely mythical account of Pilgrims and Native Americans coming together for a meal in 1619.

Today it is a somewhat secular, pseudo-patriotic day of thanks hallmarked by parades, football, and in my house, flatulence.

It’s Christmas, without the stressful scramble for gifts and familial bargaining over who visits where and when, and for how long.

It’s that unique and most American of high holidays when it’s okay – and downright common – to include both friends and family in the festivities.
Here’s the story we learned in elementary school: Pilgrims made the arduous journey to America in order to escape religious persecution. They met some Indians and – before all the nasty land grabbing and murderous rampaging began – sat down together for a meal of turkey, corn and pumpkin pie.

It didn’t really happen that way, but it’s a lovely story that encapsulates three of my favorites: religious freedom, acceptance of others who are different from us, and of course, pie.
If you read Abraham Lincoln’s original proclamation making Thanksgiving a national holiday, it’s fairly God-heavy stuff.

But putting the religious aspect aside, the most important thing he did – during the Civil War, arguably the most tumultuous time in American history – was to create a day when all of us could celebrate our blessings regardless of our political, religious, or social differences.

“I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving.”

Whoa. Wait a minute.

You can’t take God out of Thanksgiving. Whom exactly are we thanking, if not God?

That, to me, is the best part about tomorrow.

Of course you can be grateful to the god of your choice. That’s what the pilgrims were all about.

But you can also look around the table and thank your friends and family for making life so fun and interesting. You can take a moment to be grateful for everyone who makes your life a little bit easier.

And please don’t forget the veterans who sacrificed so much protecting the precious freedom that makes everything else possible here in America, especially the ability to eat pie whilst thanking the god of your choice.
I am listening to: The furnace that keeps my house warm
I am reading: About the history of Thanksgiving
And I am: Grateful