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
  • HurricaneSports

The Miami Hurricanes started the season No. 8 nationally in both major polls. Now, they’re nowhere t ...

With a bye week on the horizon, the meager University of Miami offense has nearly two weeks to attem ...

As bleak as it seems now for the University of Miami, the Canes can still take a repeat trip to Char ...

A half dozen takeaways from UM’s demoralizing 16-13 loss at Virginia on Saturday: ▪ As was the case ...

So, who’s the quarterback now? The No. 16 Miami Hurricanes came to Charlottesville on Saturday with ...

More than 600 students participate in the National Gandhi Day of Service, the largest annual service ...

Home Truth, the story of Jessica Lenahan’s pursuit of more effective domestic violence laws, screene ...

Members of the UM community who want to donate to relief efforts for those impacted by Hurricanes Mi ...

The University of Miami’s Model UN is working to expand its membership and reputation with its first ...

During a keynote address at a conference in Los Angeles, entrepreneurial heavyweight Magic Leap anno ...

The Miami Hurricanes volleyball team improved to 10-5, 6-2 in the ACC, with a 3-0 sweep of Boston Co ...

The Miami women's tennis team closed the Bedford Cup with a perfect day, winning each match in ...

Playing in front of a boisterous home crowd, the University of Miami soccer team earned a, 1-1, draw ...

The Hurricanes fell in their ACC road opener to the Virginia Cavaliers. ...

The Canes have won five straight games and are 2-0 in the ACC, but they know they have a tough road ...

TMH Twitter
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 in print on Tuesdays during the regular academic year.