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Holiday Musings

So the office is half empty, as more and more people start their holiday (American Thanksgiving) a bit early. Even for those of us that are here, not a lot of work seems to be getting done.

Now Thanksgiving is traditionally a family thing, with some major Christian and Manifest Destiny overtones. Some Native Americans approach it as a occasion of mourning. Most people claim it is a purely secular holiday, but the whole "giving thanks" thing has developed a very Judeo-Christian cast.

What about paganism, then? How should we "celebrate" this holiday that is essentially a commemoration of the survival of a bunch of religious fanatics (pilgrims) in their new land, and the beginning of the end for a large indigenous population?

This holiday is halfway between Halloween and Yule, and in many ways actually harks back to pagan European "Late Harvest" type festivals, although the Pilgrims did not acknowledge their heritage in that. The native peoples on this continent may have done something similar, although my cultural education on the details of this is sorely lacking.

I suppose one could say thanks to ones own deities for providing enough to weather the winter, although we no longer store food for several months to wait out the snow - we just nip down to the grocery store. Or better yet, one could mark it with the usual feasting, as a way of noting that not all changes are for the better, that we still can feast a little this year, and with fervent wishes that we don't end up like the indigenous populations of so many places when confronted with a powerful force that wants what little we have.

I find it ironic that a now openly imperial America celebrates its first conquest with a lot of commercial fanfare. The conquests continue, as corporate interests successfully lobby for all kinds of pork and priviledges, police viciously apply war-zone tactics to people exercising their supposedly constitutional right of protest, and powerful, well heeled "NGO"s (read corporate shills) endeavor to unify the world into one massive race to the bottom in terms of human rights, wages, living conditions and healthcare. The quarterly report has more importance to most of the power weilders in the world than the people who own stock and/or produce the goods, the environment that they depend on for life and health, or and concept of justice or fairness. Are we really going to give thanks for NAFTA, the impending FTAA, and all sorts of other "deals" that fritter away our jobs and rights for a penny increase in share value?

What have I to give thanks for now? The fact that my job could be "offshored" to a person living in a one room hovel next to several million other one room hovels, for a fraction of what I earn? The fact that my and my neighbors' cost of living doesn't go down, and the difference ends up in the pockets of a few already very rich people, most of who contribute large sums of money to the Republican party, or corporate shill Democrats? Yeah, thanks a lot.

Bend over America, you're getting stuffed, and you don't really know it yet.

Free Trade Area of the Americas
Unions Call For Timoney's Job Following FTAA Protests
Lots of Offshoring Articles from WashTech
Wife of key Saddam lieutenant held - hostages, anyone?
Media Ownership Deal Reached, Clearing Way for Big Spending Bill
Books: 'Hegemony or Survival' - interview with Chomsky


( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 26th, 2003 01:42 pm (UTC)
I agree with what you have said above. Surprise! Yet I can still be thankful this holiday. What for? Well, for one, that the standard of living of the poorest in this country is still far better than the richest in many countries of the world. I am also thankful that, while many of our freedoms are being eroded by the stupidity of our elected officials and their knee-jerk reactions to perceived threats, the freedom to express what you just wrote still exists. I am also thankful that I can vote those idiots out of office in the next election, for we do still have elections, most of which are well run.

I am also thankful that we have a generation of young and middle-aged adults who do not just accept whatever the President and Congress hands down as gospel. I am thankful, also, that I have a family with which to remember to be thankful this one day of the year for one another. I am thankful that I live in a land where you are free to be Pagan and I am free to be a fallen away Baptist, that there is no one acceptable church or religion. I am thankful that the American Atheists can live and be protected by our Constitution just as much as the organized churches are protected. I think that both enjoy the 501-C3 charitable tax status.

I am also thankful for you, ravan for the woman and witch that you have become. You are a powerful person, a thinking person who will never be one of the sheeple. For that I shall be eternally grateful. I am thankful that you are working now. I am thankful that you have a S.O. of many years. I am thankful for your kindness and sense of humor and the way I see you treating your friends on lj. I am also thankful the Boo has become another thinking woman. She is far more conservative than either of us, yet she does think. I am thankful that Boo is raising your niece and nephews to live more with books and outside play than video games. I am thankful that she has a husband who loves her and who, even though I don't often agree with his views, has enough courage of his convictions to go on record with them in the job he has chosen.

Even more basic, I am thankful that Grandma is alive to celebrate this Thanksgiving, for a roof over my head and for food in my pantry and clothing to wear. There are a lot of people in this world without those things. I am also thankful that I woke up this morning and that I have meaningful work to do in caring for Grandma and Bill.

It matters not what gods you worship. Thanksgiving is a day to look at this wonderful universe and rejoice that we are alive in it, especially with all of the wonders today's world offers us.

Hugs to you! Love ya!
Nov. 26th, 2003 01:47 pm (UTC)
I celebrate Thanksgiving every year by reading this poem at some point during the day.
Nov. 26th, 2003 06:58 pm (UTC)
I agree that the Christian flavor of the holiday is distasteful, but since it's so ingrained in our culture that ignoring it is virtually impossible, I try to look at it as an opportunity for a late-harvest feast. Whether or not the Pilgrims honored their own ancestral customs, it's up to those of us who want to follow those customs today to reclaim them. Also, in Heathenry Thanksgiving is the day for honoring Weyland Smith, the master craftsman of Germanic tradition--so, although I don't Blot to (semi-)humans, I can at least think of him tomorrow at the family feast.
Nov. 26th, 2003 07:18 pm (UTC)
I rather like the idea of honoring a craftsman, as well as a late harvest thing. It fits in better with the urban environment.
Nov. 26th, 2003 11:56 pm (UTC)
I taught ESL and survival in the US for many years to newly arrived Jewish refugees from the former Soviet Union. My dramatic lecture (full of cognate words such as "idiots" and "fanatics" and featuring turkey noises) to help these people understand what their kids were being propagandized about in the schools was focused on the lesson that this is not a Xian holiday and that the thanks were and are owing to the Indians. I taught hundreds of ex-Soviets to laugh at the Pilgrims '-)

The other aspect of the holiday is harvest thanks, which we can always do more of in our consume-to-enrich-the-corporations-and-forget-food-comes-from-the-land culture; getting together with family and failing that, friends; and it's a celebratory feast, which is a very heathen thing. So I'm kind of glad I get to do it with a family this year, and a heathen family to boot. And I'm very glad you do it for those you treasure.

Thanks to the Indians, thanks to the Earth and the sun, and thanks to the rest of my gods and yours. It's not a bad holiday even if the Pilgrims' stupidity did stick us with a date way too late in the year.

( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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