By Sam Burnham
I want to talk about Thanksgiving. I mean the holiday and the expression. In recent years Thanksgiving has gone from a an actual holiday, to the official beginning of the Christmas season, to a mere speed bump between Candy Day and Materialism Month, featuring Consumer Claus. We don't talk about it, don't think about it, don't even stop to consider it. Throw out the pumpkin, put up the tree, let's go shopping.
Oh, everyone is still going to eat. There will still be turkey and dressing (did y'all know there are folks who strain the giblets out of their gravy? Just learned this yesterday myself.) There will still be sides and deserts aplenty. There will still be football and talking politics with your uncle and all that. But will there really be any thanksgiving at Thanksgiving?
As consumerism continues to consume this land and consumers become the consumed, there is yet greater and greater demand. There is the eternal striving for increasing abundance. Everything will never be enough, there will have to be more. We must have more, bigger, better, shinier, and more elaborate on our mission to convince ourselves that we are filling the hole within us with the right stuff. Maybe if we get enough of the stuff we'll finally be happy.
But no matter how much there is, it is never enough. The things we have to have never make up for the lacking of significance. There is never any contentment. Without contentment there is never gratitude. Without gratitude there is never thanksgiving. Without thanksgiving, that famous Thursday meal in November is just a celebration of gluttony and abundance.
We think of contentment as a type of surrender. We aren't striving for more because we are lazy or scared or incapable of doing "better." But we never ask ourselves the reason we want more. Is there a reason for it? What is the actual need we are trying to fill? Is it an actual need or just a passing desire?
With a week to go before the Thanksgiving holiday arrives, let us take inventory. Stop with the hustle and look around. Think about health, wealth, security, happiness. Do you have these things? Look at family, friends, faith, hope for the future. Do you have these things? Rather than looking up to the more fortunate to drive your desires, look back on the less fortunate to allow yourself some gratitude. Don't make it about seeing yourself as better than them. Make it as "but for the Grace of God go I." Because that is reality.
We are so blessed in this country. Yet we are living in turmoil. We fight over political power, cultural slights, we fight over fighting. Our problem isn't our differences. Our problem is we lack thanksgiving because we lack gratitude because we lack contentment.
Take a week. Think it over. celebrate thanksgiving, not just Thanksgiving.
Historian, self-proclaimed gentleman, agrarian-at-heart, & curator extraordinaire