There are many places throughout the web which will provide for you the true meaning of Thanksgiving. Some will talk about the beautiful bounty shared with the Native Americans (or, if you’re old school, the American Indians) who helped them when they reached their new home. There are those who will write about the abuse of those aboriginal people. Some will speak of the glory of God, others about the benefits of capitalism after the tough initial attempt at communal harvesting.
They’ve all got some measure of truth to back their opinions, and they therefore provide a great example of the problem with researching history: very rarely is anything simple. Events happen because of the cumulative effect of many other events, spurred by people with different motivations and viewpoints. Focusing only on one or two of them can lead to myopic interpretations, while trying to focus on all of them is a maddening venture.
I propose this simple alternative on this holiday: give thanks. Thanks to our Lord, or thanks to the founders who created this country whose laws were an inspiration to the world. Thanks to the people who were here before the country existed, and thanks to the generations to come who may, with guidance, carry the idea of individual freedom flavored with fundamental morality to people who need that hope. Thanks to your friends and family for supporting you through the hard times, and thanks to them for being around to share your shining moments. Thanks to your employer for helping to put food on the table and roof overhead (even if that employer is simply the people who purchase your products and services or those which further your investments) and thanks to the pets which provide you comfort when it’s needed. Thankful to law enforcement for keeping the peace, and thankful to the spirit of cooperation among the overwhelming majority of our neighbors who ensure that their intervention is rarely required. Thankful to the doctor, fireman, electrician or grocery store clerk who is there when they’re needed, allowing us to pursue our daily activities with little thought toward just how amazing it is to live in an era of easy access to nearly any product and immediate access to nearly any information.
Thankful that the internet exists, where intelligent people can be found by the millions to remind us that we’re not alone in wanting some reason and civility, and where occasionally a few hundred may gather together to discuss the news of the day.
For all of the frustrations that assault us throughout the day and all of the justified fears which manifest as we watch the world around us, we have much to be grateful for. I hope you find joy today, whether surrounded by family and friends or merely resting in a corner with a good book and a dog at your side. It’s thanksgiving, and I thank you for being here.