We all have a lot to be thankful for.
Obviously it goes without saying. We all know that. And the fact that people travel across state lines — even across the country — to be with their families on this holiday, shows that they fully understand the true meaning of Thanksgiving.
There’s not many people in the nation who don’t at least feel a little bit more appreciative of life today. If you were to check your Facebook News Feed right now, you’d probably see an abundance of paragraph-long Facebook statuses expressing such. You’ll try to get through the first sentence of the one closest to the top, but you’ll cringe, stop, and not read anymore.
And that’s why people love Thanksgiving. Everybody is wonderful. We’re all nice to each other. And people finally, finally, take a step back to pause and acknowledge the gifts they’ve been given in their life.
I think one of the reasons why we’re so thankful and grateful on Thanksgiving, is because we’re so ungrateful during the other 364 days of the year. During other days, we don’t make the extra effort to see our loved ones, and we don’t take a few minutes to reflect on our lives and all the good that exists in it.
It’s not an indictment on the American people. Rather, it’s a commentary on how rough life is. We have a lot to worry about on a day-to-basis: our jobs, living situation, relationships with friends and significant others, our health, etc. Some of us actually don’t have the time to sit in a chair and think for few minutes of how grateful we are.
I repeat myself — that’s why people love Thanksgiving. It gives us a full 24 hours to do just that. It’s a cleansing holiday, in a way. By spending the majority of our day with relatives, we convince ourselves that it excuses us from how rarely we see them otherwise.
As a bonus, we get to eat a lot, too. So while we may have a lot on our plate metaphorically on most days, on Thanksgiving, we have a lot on our plate, literally.
And that’s why people drive hundreds of miles, catch a train, or hop on a plane to see family today.
But isn’t it enough to simply be with each other, knowing how far you came? Shouldn’t that act, that gesture, suffice in expressing the importance of family? Shouldn’t our presence in the same room on the most sacred of “family holidays” signify our gratefulness?
Apparently it does not. And that’s why, each year, somebody — an uncle, one of your parents, a grandma — will delay everyone from eating for several minutes, and awkwardly explain why they are so grateful.
There may be no more painful minutes in life than this. You’re starving, tired from traveling, and have already done more talking than you needed to, and yet, somebody has to raise their glass and say the things that are so blatantly obvious.
It usually goes something like:
“Well, it’s another year … and um, you know, I’m just happy we’re all together. Family is really important, and, uh, I love you all … and [insert stupid joke here], and [borderline-inappropriate drunk comment], and … that’s what, you know … I’m grateful for. Cheers.”
And somehow, some way, those two or three sentences defy the laws of time, and last 20 minutes.
Have you ever been with your friends, and one of them tries to tell a joke that is so painfully unfunny that not a single person laughs? And then there’s that awkward few seconds of silence where no one knows what to say? That’s what that moment around the dinner table feels like. Multipled by 100.
And I know that giving a toast or a speech is meant to be a symbolic, tangible gesture of gratefulness, but think about it — when you’re out on a date on Valentine’s Day, do you stop in the middle of the dinner and tell him or her, “Hey, I just wanted to say, that, uhh, I’m really glad you’re here with me on Valentine’s Day. Because it means your my Valentine. And I like you. Cheers.”
The fact that you actively chose to be with one another on Valentine’s Day should be enough of an indication of those things. It doesn’t need to be said. And the same thing applies for the awkward, unnecessary, pre-Thanksgiving meal toast.
This year, say no to the toast.