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Thursday, November 28, 2013

A Time to Be Thankful

Today is Thanksgiving. What does that mean in 2013? It seems to me that a day officially set aside for reflection and gratitude in 1863 by President Lincoln has become little more than a day about personal gluttony and corporate greed.

As long as I can remember, Thanksgiving has been about the food. Don't get me wrong, I love food! What I mean is that the focus of the day always seemed to be about the feast, not the reason for the feast. We even call it "Turkey Day." Just like Christmas has become about the presents, not the reason we give them. But I digress..

Since I don't have much family, the feast has been problematic for me during my married life. We have no relatives in California. The spouse is British, and quite picky, so the tradition is not hardwired into him, as it is with most Americans that grew up feasting every fourth Thursday in November. He doesn't care for the traditional side dishes, except perhaps stuffing. The girls and I don't like sweet potatoes. Treklet has been a vegetarian for almost 3 years now, so no turkey or gravy for her, and she doesn't like stuffing or that green bean casserole that literally defines Thanksgiving feasting for me and Katie.  I'm the only one that seems to like cranberries. The feast to me has come to mean a full day of slaving in the kitchen for 10 minutes at the dinner table with a picky crew, only to spend another hour or two packing up leftovers that will never be fully consumed and cleaning up. 

Over the years, I've only cooked a few times. We have eaten out, gone to the movies, or gone to my best friend's home for dinner. As a former waitress, I feel sorry for the poor restaurant staff that has to work Thanksgiving. Many of them do have families at home, and they are stuck waiting on large parties or lonely singles, most of which are not generous tippers. 

Then there's the turkey. I love turkey, but I recently read this article about the turkey we eat.
Ugh, it's just not natural. Our food supply is so altered...but that's another blog.

Of course, there is more to Thanksgiving for most families than just the feast. For those with college students, Thanksgiving may be the first time since the semester started that they get to see their kids. For people with distant relatives, Thanksgiving may be a reason to travel and visit. That's awesome. 

There are other traditions linked to the day besides the feast. There is football. When I was a kid, the men all drank Schlitz and watched the game while the women worked in the kitchen and the kids played. I hope today's modern family shares the workload a little better. 

There is the Macy's parade. I've found the parade to be a great bore in the last decade or so, but in my youth I think I enjoyed the floats and giant balloons. The parade will not be on my TV this year. If you have read my blog in the past, or follow me on Twitter or Facebook (how else would you have got here?) you know my disdain for Sea World and keeping animals in captivity for human entertainment. There has been a lot of press in recent weeks about Sea World's float in the parade, and petitions, articles, and a social media blitz imploring Macy's to disallow Sea World's participation in the parade. My personal activism is to keep the parade out of our house and not shop Macy's (who, btw, is open today! Another reason to boycott)

Another Thanksgiving tradition is for holiday shoppers to pore over the store circulars planning their Black Friday shopping spree. I have never shopped Black Friday, as most of my shopping is done before Thanksgiving arrives, and I do admit to shopping mostly online, but if I did shop on Black Friday I would NOT be shopping at Macy's, or any other store that is open today. A new tradition is starting this year, and it's disturbing. Macy's and many other stores are open today, denying their employees a day off before the holiday retail madness to be with their families. Kohl's, Wal-Mart, Target, JC Penney, Toys R Us, Best Buy, Sears, Staples, Office Depot... and more. All open on Thanksgiving. All trying to get a jump on that Black Friday Bottom Line. And shoppers will show up, because Corporate Greed thrives on Personal Gluttony. 

So there's my rant. Here is what my Thanksgiving is going to look like: 

A simple meal. Yes, we will have turkey ( bought an already-cooked breast), potatoes, and a couple of simple and healthful vegetable sides, a new cranberry recipe that I made last night, and cornbread. Since I am recovering from knee surgery, and trying to eat clean as a general rule, this will minimize my time on my feet and not add to my waistline, and we will have a reasonable amount of leftovers that will be eaten.

We will focus on being thankful today. I'm going to start right now. Here are some things I am thankful for:

*My husband's good provision for my daughters and I.  We have a nice home, in a safe neighborhood. It is full of things that bring us comfort and happiness. We have reliable vehicles and are able to keep the gas tanks full so that we can go wherever we want, when we want. If I stopped right there, I'd have more than most people in the world.

*My closest friends. They put up with me when I complain. They advise me when I am troubled. They make me feel loved, when love is what I seem to be missing most in my life. They share in my joy. You know who you are.

*Star Trek  If it wasn't for Star Trek, I'd not know half of the people I know! Star Trek has brought us together online or at conventions, and I've met so many real life friends through our mutual love of Star Trek or Sci-fi in general. It's been a jumping off point for some great relationships. 

*Social Media Many people think social media is a waste of time. I disagree. I have found many friends on social media, and I've nurtured many real life friendships by keeping in touch on social media. I've found people with similar interests, be it sci-fi, nature,or  exercise and nutrition. I stay connected, I interact, I laugh, I rant, I share, I give support and I get support. I find answers to questions. I answer questions. My life is enriched by it.

*People who are working for society today. While I pity the retail workers that have to work today, or risk losing their jobs, I salute those that are working as first responders, caregivers, security, military, etc. It's good to know that they are there if we need them, keeping us safe and healthy.

*The blessing of daughters. My eldest who makes me laugh, makes me pretty, has incredible talent, gives of her time to take pictures for me and help me when I'm gimpy. My youngest who also makes me laugh, fills my house with art, has a compassionate heart, especially for animals, and teaches me something nearly every day. They both make me beam with pride.

*The blessing of a son-in-law. He is a wonderful addition to our family. He is fun and smart and looks after my first baby girl. He is always willing to fix things for his tooltarded mom-in-law. He is a joy to hang out with.

There is much more. I hope you find time to reflect on your blessings today. If you are struggling today with feelings of sadness or loss, counting your blessings may help you realize that there is still much in your life that is good. 

Happy Thanksgiving and thanks for reading.