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I Am S.A. Barton And I Approve This Political Message

BONUS: read the tags on this one. Read them any way you want.

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I’m A Thanksgiving Literalist: I Give Thanks For Stuff And Ignore Our Weird National Fables

Turkey

I WILL EAT YOU. YOU ARE A DELICIOUS TRADITION.

The title pretty much says it all: I take the word “Thanksgiving” at face value, and I give thanks. Some folks might — and do — question how an atheistic sort like myself can give thanks without giving thanks TO something, by which they mean to a deity. Well, I answer, it is entirely possible to feel thankful for something without there being an object to hang the thanks on. I’m thankful for my wife. I’m thankful to have three awesome kids. I’m thankful for what my parents did to help me grow and I’m thankful that when they made mistakes, they were mindful and thoughtful enough to own those mistakes and say ‘whooops’ in a good and productive way. I’m thankful that when I make a parenting mistake, my kids are good enough to listen to my saying ‘whoops’ in what I hope is a good and productive way. And I’m thankful for delicious food, and a warm home, and…and…and…

…you don’t want to listen to all this. It’s a big laundry list, and you have your own laundry list of thankfulness to tend to. Suffice it to say, there is much in my life that is good and positive.

It means something, for me to have this day to focus on thankfulness. Its existence helps me remember to work it into the other 364 days of the year (your mileage may vary on leap years), and many of those days it is not easy to remember. Because I can be pretty darn pessimistic sometimes. Just as there is always something to be thankful for, there is always the potential for something to go wrong, or at least not right. And those things loom large in my vision. It has been like that for as long as I can remember. When I sell a few books, my mind wants to focus on how many more I had hoped to sell, not on being happy that the ones who bought them, bought them. When one of my blog posts gets five likes, my first thought is a grumble that it’s not fifty, rather than being thankful for the five who were good enough to pull the trigger on the positive reinforcement button. When the car is running well, I worry that it could break down tomorrow. When the bills are paid, I worry about next month.

As my maternal grandmother put it once, “we are worry warts.” To one degree or other, worry runs in the family. And yet, it’s not entirely a family thing. I read news and tweet on Twitter and look at what people post in various online forums and I see worry warts all over. Maybe it’s a human thing. Well, I’m all too human, and it often makes me grumpy. It’s important for we grumpy worry warts to take some time to focus on what there is to be thankful for.

And as for the portion of the title pertaining to “weird national fables”: what? They’re weird. They were built in a time when our nation was trying to pretend that genocide of First Nations people wasn’t part of this nation’s history (not that plenty of people — too many — aren’t trying to pretend so even today). Giving thanks is good, a ‘first Thanksgiving’ fable that glosses over the wrongs in our history isn’t so great, to say the least. So, I’m glad to cut those fables loose from my household. On other days, I tell my kids about history, and I tell my kids that people or nations that do not acknowledge their past wrongs are hurting themselves and inviting more wrongs. Honesty with self, human or nation, is vital to doing right today and in the future. Period.

But we don’t talk about that much on Thanksgiving. We’re too busy being thankful for each other.

Toddler Logic

2013-06-17 15.44.47

Let me take a moment to tell you what this innocent-looking little child just did.

To set the stage: we’ve got 3 kids, my wife and I.  A teen, an infant, and the 2-year-and-2-month-old pictured above, Victor.  My wife is a big believer in the power of breastfeeding (I’m a fan as well).  The infant, as infants do, breastfeeds pretty darn often.  Mr. 2yr+2mo eats plenty of food, but generally gets in on the breastfeeding after we wake up, midday, and when we go to bed.  Kind of a bedtime snack.  Sometimes he watches his baby brother nursing and wants to get in on the fun, but to make sure he doesn’t ruin his appetite for solid food, he has his schedule.  3 times daily max, though if he wants less, that’s fine… have to make sure he’s got the opportunity to self-wean when he’s ready.

Anyhow.

Tonight, his little brother was nursing.  Victor decided to test the waters and see if mom would let him get his bedtime milk early.

“Mom mom mom mom,” he chattered, as he climbed up to horn in on little brother’s milktime.

“Not until we go night-night,” mom said.

“It’s night!  It’s night!” Victor replied.

2 years old and he’s trying to cut his teeth on logical arguments.

Ohboy.  The next couple of decades are going to be VERY interesting.