I saw an interview on the Today Show yesterday as I poured coffee into myself and prepared for another day of work at the old family home in San Gabriel. It was Colin Firth on to talk about his new movie, The King's Speech. He was wished a happy Thanksgiving, whereupon the interviewer caught herself, saying ,"You don't celebrate Thanksgiving do you?". He being British. He told her no and added that his country was much the poorer for it. I agree, I suppose.
To be truthful, I have never much cared for Holidays. It seems that we are always being directed to feel one thing or another. Be patriotic, people, it's the 4th of July. It's Christmas, time to be rapturous over your Savior or your stuff (take your pick). It's Valentine's day, please try to muster a ghost of the old romantic voodoo. This stuff always makes me feel a little off-put. Being tasked to suddenly feel something specific usually only makes me feel cranky. And it doesn't take much to push me over into the traditional anti-Hallmark rant, that so many of us have always at the ready.
Thanksgiving is a different matter. Nearly all of the wisest people I've known, read, or overheard in coffee-houses seem to agree that of all the many talents we humans possess, Gratitude is perhaps the most lovely.
Looking for evidence, I only have to think back to a previous paragraph. It is not hard at all to find examples of human beings oppressing and killing one another over the mentioned emotions. Patriotism? Religion? Materialism? Romantic Love? Any of these can lapse into the sort of obsession that turns us vicious whether alone or with an army. Properly attenuated, each is okay, but watch the throttle, boys and girls.
I think it's safe to say that most of the emotions kindled by our most major holidays, can leap to awful flame. But Gratitude? Do we have examples of men driven wild by their feeling grateful? Have we pummeled other nations into the dirt because we were overwhelmed with humble appreciation for what we had?
Who ever built a bomb, enslaved another or stripped a defenseless country of her resources out of unrestrained thanks-giving?
No, it is always wanting more that does it. I admit it here; I very often want more than I have. If not things, then attention ... acknowledgement ... affection ... something to pump me up, and convince me that I am better than I suspect that I am. But nothing ever works really.
It seems that some of us do 'grateful' much more easily than the rest. Or maybe they just try harder. Whatever the case, I have known people who don't even wait for the third Thursday in November. They set their cruise-control on "thankful" every chance they have. I've noticed that they also seem to be the happiest of us. Coincidence? You tell me.
So, though I don't feel particularly grateful today, I will drag myself from this warm bed, travel to the embrace of friends and family, and pretend that I do. What could it hurt?