These days Thanksgiving Day tends to get defined by reference -- as one bookend to the Holiday Season of mass consumption, as historical allegory, as jokes about turkeys -- but rarely is regarded head-on as the direct descendant of millennia of harvest festivals celebrating the realization of summer's promise in the form of autumn's storable crops. Inspired by such tangible evidence that my community probably would not starve to death over the winter, living in any but this time and place of incomprehensible bounty, who would not be moved to celebrate and give thanks?
Elena's chopstick-fu is strong.
For my part, I am also glad that I and those I love will probably not starve to death this winter, but it's hard to muster the real gratitude for this fact that it probably deserves, given how remote a possibility that was to begin with. Had McCain won the recent election and doomed us to several more years of recklessness and inaction, I might have had to reevaluate that position sooner than I would like.
That sounds like a jumping-off point to discuss some things for which I am, in fact, deeply grateful. This is intentional.
Getting top billing on this particular list has to be the newest member of my family, Elena. Over the past couple of years she has brought a great infusion of happiness, adventure, and love into my life, and when we got married this summer, I became a very lucky fellow indeed. How lucky? I should only have to point out that she's been exceedingly patient with the fact that I've been here in New York for the past five weeks, and doesn't sound inclined to murder me when I get back!
Of course, I'm grateful for the rest of my family as well! They may not always understand me and some of the odd decisions I make and things I do, but they've reliably made up for it with more caring and acceptance than I could reasonably hope for. Also, they are pretty awesome folks in their own right.
I already alluded to the deep swell of relief I felt when McCain lost our recent Presidential election, and more than that, I am profoundly grateful that our incoming president is sane, competent, and appears to show actual and genuine respect for the human race. Fortunately, the feeling appears to be mutual. This has dramatically increased my optimism that homo sapiens is not facing imminent extinction (nor, even, reduction to a state where harvest festivals regain their original significance, if we play our cards right).
Obama addresses approximately 105 cheering supporters last October. From The Big Picture's photo series on Obama.
And I am grateful for the apparently boundless curiosity of humankind. In addition to keeping me in a job -- yay for science funding -- it's that curiosity (about how nature works, sure, but also curiosity about ourselves, about our neighbors, about the future) and the harvest of creativity it inspires that will keep that bleak winter at bay.