We were once under the misapprehension that Christmas was the holiday that had become commercialized and drained of meaning. After witnessing the emergence of Black Friday as a widely understood part of the lexicon, we’re inclined to think that the Thanksgiving holiday has become just as bad.
Never mind that the whole Pilgrims and Indians thing is apocryphal at best and an enduring insult to Native Americans at worst. And never mind that the best way to avoid misery is to be in a constant state of thankfulness. What’s so unpleasant — repulsive? — about the typical American Thanksgiving is that it mirrors the worst parts of our culture. It’s not a holiday devoted to gratitude. It’s a holiday devoted to mindless consumption.
Overeating — over-consuming — is seen as a sacred duty, not a perverse commentary on the chasm between the Haves and everyone else. And then, the next morning, the goal (as described in countless amused missives from the “front lines” at the shopping malls) is to acquire more disposable stuff to fill the hole in our collective heart.
We suppose one should be thankful to live in a place where there is such absurd abundance that the lines between gluttony and glee become blurry. But wouldn’t it be nice if, instead, we used our Day of Thanks to do exactly the opposite of overconsume? If we chose to be nourished and pleased by all that we have and not haunted by all we don’t?
That we’d be grateful for.