On Thanksgiving

I have to say that Thanksgiving tends to make me queasy. Not in the sense of “I’ve eaten more than my jeans can bear and now expect to spend the day re-experiencing everything that has gone in my mouth,” but in the piety it seems to bring out in so many of us and the folks that it forgets. I am thankful, certainly, for so many things in my life: a home, people close who care about me, the cats who give me such joy, the awareness that I can be happy again in the post-divorce years of my life. There’s a lot to be said for daily contentment.

Maybe the discontent is more in the question of “to whom shall I give thanks?” If you know me, you know that I try to stay close to God, and am open to the variety of ways that people connect with the Divine. So, does God, or the universe, afford me such things? Why me?

I also can’t forget that every other Thanksgiving we are living in the wake of (reveling in? mourning?) an American election season. A biennial event in which poverty rarely gets even a mention. Giving thanks in those years seems especially self-absorbed. Shall I sit at an overflowing table and thank God for all the abundance? Or shall I be honest and offer thanks for the migrants (with and without documented work status) who harvest, the working poor who staff the grocery check stands, the nameless foreign women and children who deaden their fingers with sewing machines and scar their feet plundering landfills? Where do those inexpensive home-décor items originate?

Thanksgiving seems to make us want to share, to feel good about offering our leftovers to some “poor unfortunate,” while forgetting our complicity in his or her misfortune. Counting our blessings seems careless, thoughtless. Like the woman, as it was told to me, thankful that her beach mansion had survived the recent hurricane who was moved to proclaim that prayer worked. How short a line is it from that understanding of prayer and thanksgiving to the idea that God must love me best to bless me so? And must therefore love others less. It’s a problem for me. A theological problem, but also a bit of daily discord.

The gift of Thanksgiving as a national holiday is its reminder that we are not alone.  We may gather with family and friends – at least that’s what we’re told is normal and traditional – but beyond those we see, or those to whom we may offer our leftovers, there is a world full of people whose contributions make our days what they are.  What does it mean to be thankful when I know the cost borne by so many?

You see why this makes me uncomfortable. I wish for you all an equally queasy Thanksgiving.  And I welcome your thoughts.

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I’m new at this…

so it may take a while for this to take shape. It’s taken me much of the afternoon to choose the theme, and the title, and I have to say I’m pretty happy with the new domain I’ve gotten — mendtheworld.me. Me. Not just pointing to someone else as if it isn’t my responsibility, but me. A pretty decent reminder which I’m sure will regularly annoy me. My idea is to use this forum to think out loud about moments that seems to need pondering. Like the woman after the election who said she wasn’t comfortable placing $250K-earners in the top bracket. Thought “middle class” should extend to those that make half a million. I’m pretty sure i shouted at the radio that “middle” is barely $50K. So this will be my shouting place. But also my musing place, and I hope you’ll offer fodder for that. (Yes, Tracy, I know what fodder means.) But I’ve been taking a fresh look through a camera lens, too, and expect to post photos with some regularity. Some of them will no doubt come from various antique stores and junk sales. I do some of my best pondering over the ghosts of previous eras; those remnants cause me to consider where we’ve been and what we learned along the way. As I discovered when I cajoled Mother into joining me on an antiquing jaunt, artifacts also inspire stories, and can give generations new connections with each other. Which may be just cheap justification for an addictive hobby. But it’s also true that a serious life needs a sideline of playfulness. And i can’t really bowl anymore. So, I put rolling pins in with the wine bottles to see who’ll notice. Thanks for reading. There’s a lot to do to mend this world, and it will take all of us. Including me.