Thanksgiving may well be another frontier over which Americans choose to become ever more divided. Yes, even the dinner table — on a national holiday, in a country that guarantees our civil liberties — can become a battlefield for our beliefs.
I am dismayed at how many people have been telling me to have a “happy holiday” this week. I simply cannot believe that the word thanksgiving is cause for offense to anyone. I am thrilled that we finally accept that there are many different beliefs in this country. I am ecstatic that we are aware of the many different holidays that occur at this time of year. But I thought that Thanksgiving was one holiday that we could surely all celebrate in unison.
The Pilgrims were thankful to God, specifically their Christian god, for all they had been given, including religious freedom in this new world. They celebrated with the Pokanokets who were, themselves, no strangers of thankfulness to their creator. The Pilgrims thanked God for providing these natives who had taught them how to live in this strange and coarse wilderness.
It was this first flight from religious restriction that allows us the privilege to accept, respect and incorporate so many different beliefs into one society. Are we not all thankful — every race, color, religion, gender, or creed? As an Atheist, am I not thankful? You might ask, to whom does an Atheist give thanks, if not to a god?
I am thankful to those who have fought to defend my civil liberties. I am thankful to my parents for the tangible and intangible gifts they continue to give me long after their death. I am thankful to my children, with whom I exchange love unquestioningly. I am thankful to Bubba for all he gives me to smile and laugh about. I am thankful to my employer who shows appreciation with a paycheck and benefits that allow me to live a healthy, happy life. I am thankful to the intelligent people who have given me all the technologies that make life easy and fun.
There is so much to take for granted, or even bitch about in this life. Thanksgiving is a time for all people to remember not only the things we have been given, but be thankful for them. Observing thankfulness spans all cultures, nations, and religions with all the beliefs they bring with them. Gratitude, we have learned, is a healthy, healing undertaking. For one religion to claim rights to Thanksgiving because some of the first people to observe it were Christian is like saying the Native Americans gave us high fructose corn syrup because they showed us how to plant corn.
Peace . . .
To whom and for what are you thankful today?