Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Thanksgiving is the Best American Holiday

Thanksgiving is the best American holiday. It is at once sacred and secular without paradox. We live on this great land, brimming with life and with the things we need, shining with great beauty in every corner. We have our wonderful people, drawn from every continent to come here to this land where opportunity is there for the taking. We have our musics, our arts, our folk of every sort, our hopes and our knowledge of our imperfections and our chances to start over when we need to. And we give thanks for all of it.

So much is overwhelmingly good here, and once a year we celebrate that goodness with the very best gift anyone could want, our families. We celebrate the abundance of America, and our own individual good fortunes, by partaking of them in abundance. We eat, we drink, and we laugh and talk with those family members and friends who are good enough to share this grateful day with us.

And who do we thank? Of course, we all know, monk and atheist alike, that we are, each in our way, thanking God for letting us live in a world that is overflowing with surprises and experiences. Everyone might not name Him the same, and some might not admit His divinity, and that's not a requirement for giving thanks. At the first Thanksgiving, it is unlikely that native and Puritan gave thanks using the same language, but thanks were given, sincerely, on both sides.

Some of us might thank Nature, by whose mysterious processes we find ourselves, human beings, participating in the chaotic dance of life that Nature spins for us as a universe within the physical universe, a great ballet in which every clump of vegetation and every creature has a role, and each depends on the other. Even the scientist, and especially the mathematician, experiences thankfulness for the vastness of it, the perfection and absurd unfathomable intelligence of Nature.

Some might simply thank Lady Luck for bringing them the good things, abundance of food and friends and a shortage of pain. Even those who experience pain can give thanks for its occasional cessation and the crazy hope that always accompanies it.

The day is for thanking, without specification. It is the best holiday, the day that we eat heartily and socialize happily in the understanding that life is bigger than any of us, that there are some things we don't know but we do know that we are taken care of.

I thank all the good people who have given their energy and their thoughts this year to Teach the Facts, and I thank those on the other side who have earnestly sought answers to difficult problems, opposing us but working toward an honorable goal. Let's leave this for a day or two and come back with full hearts and stomachs, ready for the next round of whatever happens.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

to paraphrase the Red Baron:

Merry Turkey Feast, my friend!

November 23, 2005 9:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here! Here! Something that ALL can agree on...what do I give thanks for?

For a country where we can all disagree, and that that is a sign of a healthy society.

For Mrs. Joan Ellis, my 3rd to 6th grade EH (Educationally Handicapped; this predates the educational euphemism no known as "Special Ed")elementary school teacher (public school, no less). I was functionally illiterate and with the help of the Sullivan Phonics reader I did learn to read.

God bless her wherever she is, and God bless all teachers!


Orin Ryssman
Fort Collins, CO

November 24, 2005 6:11 AM  

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