Thursday, November 23, 2006

gratitude

Thanksgiving is the most American of holidays: there are no heroes to be commemorated; no religious sentiments; no cards to be bought; and no political message. It is the one day Americans are encouraged to stop pushing themselves, to relax with friends and family and to share their food with others. It is the least commercialized of any holiday, despite its boon to many agricultural niche products. Although it is not well known outside of North America, the fourth Thursday in November is a day in which 95% of the households in the USA serve the same food. Beyond cooking and eating, most households will also be doing other similar activities: arguing over this year's elections, watching the Lions and the Cowboys, reheating food later tonight and planning the Winter holidays which are another month away.

Many any angry radical has pointed out that the day marks the beginning of the genocide of the indigenous people of this country, but you could make a much better case that Columbus Day marks that genocide better. Thanksgiving marks the cooperation between the two cultures, a moment of multicultural hope, that was sadly squandered by subsequent generations. But then as today, it should be the Native Americans that we honor and thank, for they were the agents and initiators of today's feast. The country is 99.9% of immigrant stock, but those original settlers would not even have any descendants were it not for their generous allied native neighbors. But there's no way this is going to become a national day of mourning from its current celebratory state. We should not forget the crimes of past generations, but the best we can do is hope for the future.

For this reason, I would like to propose that we reverse the staggering rudeness with which we have been treating people coming to our country since 9/11. Many of the nicest people in the world have been disgusted by the gauntlet you are now forced to run through upon arrival here. We should give thanks for them coming and bear in mind that such a journey was not always so easy.

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