There are many things for which I'm thankful, and I have no problem saying so...even directly to the people to whom and for whom I am thankful. But this alleged holiday, like all the others, really pisses me off. How do I detest thee (with apologies to Ms. Browning), let me count the ways;
The first way is that this, like most other things in history, is based on total lies all the way up and down, from the non-existent being most people supposedly "give thanks" to (instead of the actual people who did the work), to the other mythologies surrounding the origin of the holiday. Maybe it's a flaw, a personality quirk, a form of illness...I just don't really like lies. You know that "holiday" is a shortened form of Holy Day, right? What is supposed to be "Holy" about this day? You can begin your study of the origins of Thanksgiving at wikipedia. Is it "Holy" because of the theft of lands from natives...because of the slaughter of natives? Here is more about it.
In the US, the two most vile of these so-called holidays, in my perception, is this one and Christmas. Aside from all the lies, what makes it even worse, to me, are the expectations that have evolved over time. Expectations of behavior, of traditions, of acts that might otherwise be good, being reduced to mindless religious and social ritual; get the gifts, wrap the the gifts, cook hugely unnecessary amounts of food, and of course, the greatest ritual of all, spend the money...even if you don't have any. The meeting of family...why these times as opposed to other times? What is all that great about meeting with family anyway? For many people, family simply means a bunch of people with whom you sometimes socialize, but whom you would otherwise never wish to associate, were it not for a familial connection. For others, these are the saddest of times, stark reminders of their loneliness and vulnerability. Some make a spectacle of giving to the "less fortunate" at these times...and they can starve the rest of the year and live under cardboard boxes, in the sewers, and very few ever care. Of course most don't truly care at these times either, it is rather, opportunities for a bit of pageantry and martyrdom...perhaps to secure a bit more funding for the group.
Mark Twain's 70th birthday fell on Thanksgiving in 1905. He said;
"The original reason for a Thanksgiving Day has long ago ceased to exist—the Indians have long ago been comprehensively and satisfactorily exterminated and the account closed with Heaven, with the thanks due." Source.
Personally, I am thankful for and to my wife who loves me and takes care of me. Thankful for and to friends online and off, who treat me well, and with whom I can share laughs, information and ideas. I am thankful that I have adequate food (because of SNAP), shelter from the elements, etc. I wish I could be thankful for living in a world in which humans did not war against each other; a world in which a single murder...or death from starvation or lack of health care, would be cause for global alarm and sadness...a world in which no one ever died except by choice. No one is more of a transhumanist than I, no one would more like to live forever in good health and comfort and happiness, and would love the same for all others who want it.
Knowing that no such world can ever be possible unless or until the animal programming of humans is replaced with better things, I have only the balm of eternal oblivion for which to be truly and ultimately thankful. I think it very sad that so few people seem able to grasp such a simple and fundamental reality. Many wise people do... Mr. Twain said:
"I was dead for millions of years before I was born and it never inconvenienced me a bit."
Isaac Asimov said:
"Although the time of death is approaching me, I am not afraid of dying and going to Hell or (what would be considerably worse) going to the popularized version of Heaven. I expect death to be nothingness and, for removing me from all possible fears of death, I am thankful to atheism." — Isaac Asimov, "On Religiosity".
And Albert Einstein said:
"The fear of death is the most unjustified of all fears, for there's no risk of accident for someone who's dead."
Perhaps we would do well to not take current events so seriously...they are both eternal and temporary...
"The Earth is degenerating these days. Bribery and corruption abound. Children no longer mind their parents, every man wants to write a book, and it is evident that the end of the world is fast approaching." — Assyrian Stone Tablet, c.2800BCE
Soon it will be 2012 and even now, perhaps the Koreans are preparing a nice toasty end for us all.Until our particular door to that eternal realm opens, we do have laughter. I would hope we use it more.
"Q: What do a coffin and a condom have in common?
A: They're both filled with stiffs — except one's coming and one's going."
Oh yeah...I'm also thankful I can sit on the couch in me drawers and attend Harvard.