Opinion

Reflecting on the meaning of ‘thankfulness’

It’s almost impossible to feel really good about oneself after Thanksgiving. No one can reflect upon their lives after a day spent in food-fueled revelry and think, “I made the world a better place today.” Whatever else it might be, Thanksgiving is not a holiday that celebrates sustainability and discipline; Turkey Day is the one day each year where overconsumption is hailed as a virtue. Nothing about the great American Feast Day tries to scale itself down. Millions of people drive or fly millions of miles to consume millions of pounds of food in order to celebrate the grand abundance of this country.

At least that is what the original Thanksgiving celebrations were meant to do.in a sense. Really, though, what that very first feast was meant to do was to say, “Thank everything that is good and holy for sending these natives to us so we didn’t all die from starvation.” Abundance was absolutely a reason for the celebration, but so was genuine thankfulness for their survival. Each and every person present at that early feast had personally been affected and very possibly saved by the abundance their nascent country had produced. They were all, in a very real sense, giving thanks for something very near and dear to their hearts: their own achievements and their own survival.

Thanksgiving is now nothing more than a forced celebration of this particular country and the “abundance” it provides. Saying that it is a day on which to “count one’s blessings” is absolutely correct, if only one can recognize that in counting those blessings the praises of the country are also sung. Perhaps the flags aren’t as prominent as they are on July 4, but the day is meant solely to increase one’s patriotism. After all, if one counts their blessings, must the country that provides for those things not also be praised?

Each person who participated in that first Thanksgiving was celebrating and reveling in their achievements. The whole thing was a self-congratulatory slap on the back, really.

If each one of the people in this country who celebrates Thanksgiving today could say to themselves that it was an opportunity to celebrate the work they had done to get to their current position, perhaps the holiday would have merit as a positive behavior reinforcer. But when it is nothing more than a week to “celebrate the country” by letting a decent portion of that country sit on its collective hind end, then perhaps those idle in that week would be better served by.going to work.

Andrew Hamner is a freshman majoring in journalism and political science and may be contacted at a.hamner@umiami.edu.

November 29, 2007

Reporters

The Miami Hurricane

Student newspaper at the University of Miami


Around the Web
  • Miami Herald
  • UM News
  • Error

Duke Johnson, the all-time leading rusher in Miami Hurricanes history, was one of a dozen members of ...

The Miami Hurricanes, still waiting for a starting quarterback to be named, are in the top 25 again. ...

Happy first day of school for everyone out there, including the University of Miami students. We jus ...

With the University of Miami season opener closing in, the next starting quarterback has yet to be n ...

The second fall scrimmage, closed to the media and public, is over. University of Miami coach Mark R ...

UM’s new chief academic officer holds some 40 patents, and in 2017 was inducted into the National Ac ...

University of Miami students and researchers are blogging during a month-long expedition in the Gulf ...

María de Lourdes Dieck-Assad, a world-renowned economist and former ambassador, fills a new role for ...

Through the U Dreamers Grant, DACA students find essential support as they pursue their college degr ...

UM students talk about their internships up north in a city that never sleeps. ...

RSS Error: A feed could not be found at http://www.hurricanesports.com/. A feed with an invalid mime type may fall victim to this error, or SimplePie was unable to auto-discover it.. Use force_feed() if you are certain this URL is a real feed.

TMH Twitter Feed
About TMH

The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly on Thursdays during the regular academic year.