This Thanksgiving

When I was growing up, like so many other holidays Thanksgiving was a reason (or excuse) for the family to take some time off from the rat race and gather together. It was a time to indulge in some small allowances, cook something out of the ordinary, eat a little more than usual and allow ourselves some rest and relaxation. There were parades downtown and football on TV, plus the grownups seemed more cheerful and happy.

Both in school and at home we were given reasons to 'celebrate' the various holidays. In this case, so we were told, it was to give thanks similar to what the Pilgrims and Indians once did at their community feast. And what a warm story it was to help us embrace our thankfulness. Who would want to go and ruin it by examining why and how? Really, isn’t there anything left we can just enjoy for what it could be instead of all the ways it became something else?

For the past few years I have been a deer in the headlights. After a while those nagging questions just leaked into every nook and cranny of my mind and it became paralyzing. So the Pilgrims and Indians tale didn’t quite happen as told? They do what to raise those poor turkeys to supply enough for everyone to eat? I’m supposed to be this grateful every day, so highlighting a special day of thanks implies I’m doin’ it wrong? But what about the children and my family? They expect things to be a certain way. And what's worse is I programmed them to be this way and to expect it from me!

This year I have had enough. NO MORE. In the recent past what I had done regarding holidays is precisely what many people do when they become disillusioned after discovering things are not as they seem. They run to the other side of the herd seeking the truth. Over on that side there is a new alternative group think which appears to be light years ahead, but only because they have been over there long enough to look around before you arrived.

We are so acclimated to having preconceived choices manufactured, then laid out for us to choose from, that we think the alternative is some new and unique way. But it isn’t. It is just another of many choices sitting there for us to consent to or not, then trick ourselves into thinking we have exercised our free will. We proclaim, “I shall not celebrate that holiday, it is based upon a lie. I will not participate in rituals that have no personal meaning for me.” And there it is, the anti-holiday sentiment all tied up with a pretty bow and it didn’t cost a penny.

turkey confusion

But there is something odd about the way 'alternative' views work. They usually claim to express the 'truth' except…what is true at this particular time, or for that one person, may not be for another. Which means your truth and mine can be quite different and both be essentially correct. I cannot dictate what is true in your reality any more than you can for mine.

Thoughts and experiences that bring me peace and happiness are quite likely different than yours. Something I find beautiful you might find distasteful or even revolting. What it boils down to is simple; one person’s truth often doesn’t ring true for another. Since we are not wired to fully accept another person's reality, but instead extensively modify it to suit our own, is it any wonder we have become such a chaotic society?

Our modern lives are structured in such a way that someone’s ‘truths’ are dictated to everyone else. And if you live in certain places, particularly high density cities, those truths are backstopped with physical force. But something similar occurs in our homes and personal lives when we push our own personal expectations onto those around us. Often this is how you find yourself at a Thanksgiving table you can’t wait to escape from. Or thinking about the hassles of all these ‘festivities’ that carry this 'holiday' season well into the new year. The time, effort, money and most certainly the emotional expectations… what were we celebrating again?

But I think in this case, after looking long and hard at this Thanksgiving, I have discovered that the problem is the solution. It is the expectations everyone has, me included, of ourselves and each other. We expect others to see and feel the same way as we do and then act accordingly. When they don’t, which is nearly all the time, it’s a problem for them and for us. Feelings are hurt all around, even if only because we are casting our disapproval. How can I expect anyone else to see my reality if I can't see theirs?

This means being OK with where others are in their reality, even if my instinct is to jump up and down and tell them they are doing it wrong or missing the banana boat. Perhaps I can actually be an example of the solution by not reacting in a negative way even if I disapprove of the premise behind what is going on. Participating in something I strongly disapprove of is not foreign to me. After all, every time I swipe my debit card at the store I support the very banking system I feel is detrimental to all. I acknowledge there is a blatant contradiction in my actions, but I try not to react negatively while I sort through it and work towards disengaging.

Waking up to more and more truths will likely require more time than I have left in this lifetime. While I am here I am part of the system no matter how withdrawn I choose to believe I am. In fact I am not sure how I can continue to uncover additional 'truths' during my journey unless I can put aside expecting others to 'see' what I see. This also applies to not reacting to what others may expect of me. And just because I can manage to do this, I can’t 'expect' others to do so as well. The only way I know to more forward from here is to be settled with the knowledge that, for better or worse, people are where they are and that is the way it is.

Aside from what I think about truth or reality, the thing that really tripped me up was examining the idea of celebrating. Contrary to what many mean when they use this word, 'celebrate' is defined as: publicly acknowledge (a significant or happy day or event) with a social gathering or enjoyable activity. If I choose not to celebrate holidays, I still grow a year older. The annual markers of other peoples’ beliefs and events still occur whether or not I acknowledge them.

It seems to me others are demanding special occasions be acknowledged with gatherings and enjoyable activities rather than every day. Indeed, I attempt to celebrate every day as if it is a gift. Well, that sure isn’t something others will 'expect' from me. Either I am a wet blanket if I do not participate in prescribed rituals or I am a nut case if I choose to embrace each day as sacred. Most would prefer I just fall in line and be happy on the appointed day.

For the Thanksgiving holiday I have some specific observations. In general have found the less people have, the more grateful they tend to be. Those who have never been truly hungry probably aren’t as grateful to have one or two hearty meals a day as those who have known true hunger. The same goes for warmth, shelter, security and love. If one hasn’t been without, having isn’t quite the same.

Maybe we who were fortunate enough to grow up in a home of plenty and 'celebrated' all the public holidays take for granted our situation compared to so many people leading less comfortable lives. Perhaps our ability to evaluate our own needs and wants has become something a bit unnatural as we morph into a consuming society.

After chewing on all these thoughts, then discussing it with Cog and the child unit, here is what we have decided to do this Thanksgiving holiday. Because we all enjoy a turkey dinner and all the trimmings, we are preparing a gluten free feast at home to enjoy sometime on or about Thursday.

With this in mind, as a family we ventured out and chose a gigantic frozen bird to ensure we had plenty of left-overs. While in the store the teen demanded we name it so that we could repeatedly thank it for becoming our dinner. Thus it was we took home Chester.

On Tuesday of this coming week, we will bake gluten free bread for stuffing and make final decisions regarding deserts. Chester will be set out to thaw and we will pour through our list of dishes, gravies and sauces to make sure we don’t ‘gluten’ the child while not leaving out any important elements.

For me, the value of this Thanksgiving lies not in the meal, which I’m sure will be a wonderful treat, but in the time we spend to do this together. The ‘now’ of enjoyment, together with preparing and consuming of this meal, is what will make it special for me. Because the relentless pace of change is the one thing that never changes, we will never have this time together in quite this manner again. And to me, that is well worth celebrating.

turkey and stuffing

Like this article? Take a second to support Cognitive Dissonance on Patreon and gain access to exclusive Patreon Only articles!

5 thoughts on “This Thanksgiving”

  1. Mrs Cog

    I’m sure Chester will have a great time hanging out with the Cog clan on Thanksgiving. I wasn’t even thinking about doing anything for the Holidays, then I came across this story and read it a few times. It got me thinking about my brothers and spending some time with them, so I committed to the invite. I confirmed with the host today and I offered to help him hang his Christmas lights the day before Thanksgiving. There are only 23,000 of them to hang, so it should be a piece of cake. The most important thing is family even if you don’t see eye to eye on anything.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VciYH_r205s

    Mr Pepper

  2. Great, timely post and a nice reminder of what we really should be thankful and grateful for – sometimes just life itself is enough.

    While Chester wont’ be joining me for the holiday, I will be spending the time with some new friends who are also learning how to live in and out of the matrix as we all must do. We will also have the opportunity to discuss space weather, aerosols and many other taboo subjects – honest and open conversations are rare these days but a great way to spend a holiday if family is not available or an option.

    Best wishes to the Cogs and all others on TIF.

  3. Hello, Cogs, TIF-ites, online readers . . . and my cherished circle of fellow Asylum-dwellers, here on TIF:

    Gratitude is a daily thing, but tomorrow is a special opportunity to remember what each of us is truly thankful for and to share that awareness with others, not only through working together to prepare a special meal, or traveling miles and miles to be with family and loved ones. We’ve lived another year, managed to deal with everything this crazy life is dishing up, have kept up our awareness of the world around us, and still enjoy spending quality time with family and friends, both in person and online.

    When I sit down to the table tomorrow, I will be thinking not only of my nearest and dearest – but also of all of Y-O-U out there, who have made my months here at TIF so wonderful, so rewarding and so hope-filled for keeping the light on during a very dark time. May the world of TIF grow, prosper and evolve in remarkable ways over the coming years and continue to offer each of us a truly unique place to be ourselves and give thanks for being able to do so amongst friends.

    Viva TIF! Gratitudes and Celebrations!
    LionLady

Leave a Reply