What about Thanksgiving

Sandwiched between Halloween and Christmas — the two most greedy and selfish of our nation’s pastimes — Thanksgiving is but a few days away.

In the upcoming days, shopping stores will open their doors as the sun peaks above the horizon. Hordes of consumers will stampede their way up and down shopping aisles, fulfilling the wants of their loved ones and even some of their own.

With all the impressive deals, the true price paid for expensive gadgets and luxury knick-knacks far exceeds the value of the almighty dollar.

Over time, Thanksgiving has been reduced to a mere gluttonous affair where we stuff more than turkey. There’s more to this shortened work and school week than gorging on pumpkin pie and cranberry sauce — at least there should be.

It started as a celebration between two very different groups of people from two very different backgrounds. After a long journey and harsh winter, the pilgrims and indigenous people of the land sat down to enjoy a home cooked meal and to give thanks for all they had, and it took them three days to do so.

Regrettably, as history shows us, this was the only remotely positive interaction between these two groups. Instead of being appreciative for what we had and instead of working together — regardless of our differences — we became takers. Not out of necessity, but from pure want, we consumed from one coast to the other.

Not a proud tradition, but a tradition nonetheless.

It would take over 200 years before Thanksgiving would officially become an annual celebration. In all that time, our ability to accurately define and act upon the words of “thanks” and “giving” has, in large part, escaped us.

We still struggle to understand what this time of year should symbolize. For some, this is nothing more than a long weekend. Some spend hours in line to buy a television instead of spending it with their families.

In the political landscape, “giving” has been characterized as a tax, and goodness knows how half the country feels about taxes — regardless of the benefits they might produce.

Should you find yourself on the receiving end of a program funded by taxes, you’re a lazy no-good taker. If there ever were a middle ground, it would seem that one doesn’t exist anymore.

Personally, and in spite of popular opinion, I am optimistic.

It’s easy to be a cynic, and it’s even easier to find fault and blame others. But in the end, no good ever comes from these ingrained behaviors.

In the hustle and bustle that is life, we can utilize Thanksgiving by setting time aside to reflect on everything and everyone in our lives. This isn’t asking too much.

Focusing on what we are all fortunate enough to have and to have experienced will be what separates our future from our past. Dwelling on loss or what divides us will only expedite the downward spiral by which many of us feel victimized.

This is not the time for finger pointing and bickering; we’ve all had enough of that.

According to Linus from the comic strip “Peanuts” by Charles M. Schulz, our country was the first to establish a holiday giving thanks, let’s hope it finally sticks.

 

Reach the columnist at jbfortne@asu.edu or follow him at @JOMOFO40.