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.
So, tomorrow I begin final preparations to load myself onto a Greyhound bus and head from Norfolk, VA to Washington, D.C. for a school thingiee. This ‘thingiee’ will last a week and will involve attending lectures, role-playing exercises meant to build skills to use in mental health counseling, being videotaped, meeting with academic advisors, and plenty of other stuff.
Since my means are humble (read: my family lives close to the belt and has little to spare beyond meeting a modest set of bills that keep a roof over our heads, food in our bellies, and the internet we need to attend online classes and for me to publish new ebooks), this will be a trip on a shoestring.
I’ll be staying in a hostel because D.C. hotel prices that’s why. I’ll be taking the Metro across town because this thingiee takes place in the Crystal City section of Arlington nearby, and the prices are much higher there.
I’m looking forward to meeting some interesting people and hearing some interesting stories. I hope some of those stories will enrich my writing. I enjoy traveling, but haven’t been able to do any in years. I don’t expect I’ll get to do any sightseeing since the thingiee schedules plus transit time will fill most of my days. Such is life.
But I’ll have reading material along, and some notebooks to work on my writing, and the internet through my phone so maybe I’ll have the chance to drop a few things on my blog here and my Facebook author page as well. The Greyhound rides alone will give me a nice chunk of writing time, so I’m hoping aside from the school-y enrichment I will get a step closer to building enough new wordage to let me complete a new collection of stories soon.
No matter what happens, this ought to be interesting. Traveling on a shoestring always is. Here’s hoping nothing goes terribly wrong. 🙂