I moved to New York when I was 4 years old. Still, I will most likely forever regard myself as a foreigner. I don’t think this is true for everyone. My grandmother, for instance, considers herself a native New Yorker, while she calls everyone else foreigners, or kharegy.
Anyhow, I would be most obliged to provide my impression of Thanksgiving, as a foreigner, in the aftermath of all the food I ate—and the hours and dollars I spent peeking for deals online while at “work” on Monday.
Please don’t quote me, but Thanks-giving is possibly the most widely celebrated national holiday in this country when referring to observances devoid of religious attachment. It’s clear to see why. It is quite a pleasant holiday.
What’s wrong with being thankful anyhow? Cooking the turkey might be time-consuming and hard to fit into a standard-size oven, but it does feed a table full of people. (Though I cannot contain myself from interrupting to mention that most Persians will supplement the traditional meal with dozens of delicious ethnic foods.)
Taking the day off to just stay home and spend time with our extended family—and our beloved electronics—is usually appealing. Then there is Black Friday, followed by Cyber Monday, with a whole slew of sales and a frenzy of shopping. It isn’t distasteful, considering it is the beginning of the winter and holidays are coming up.
The question that arises, however, is why eat turkey and shop? Across the globe, stock markets and businesses are open, but in the U.S. we pause for turkey.
I am not totally ignorant. My younger son did remind me about the Mayflower and the pilgrims who came after a perilous journey in the quest for religious freedom. He spoke of the first Thanksgiving meal, in which the Indians “saved” the pilgrims, teaching them how to survive and what to eat.
Still, why do we celebrate with a meal and shopping? Is this a valid way to preserve a historical victory?
Being grateful is something that we always strive for year-round. It is said that grateful people lead happier lives. We train our children to say “please” and “thank you,” with hopes of eradicating the evil trait of entitlement. We are told to make lists of all we have, in order to ignite our appreciation for life. We try to tell ourselves that we have more than we deserve, and that we should strive to be more minimalistic and less materialistic.
Upon reflection, I have to say that celebrating is a viable form of appreciation. Eating and spending are effective forms of thanks. Hands-on actions speak louder than textbooks to remind us of the past.
Telling ourselves to feel grateful would be unrealistic and just lead to feelings of guilt. It takes us back to mankind’s infamous pursuit of happiness. We want so badly to be joyful and thankful, that we are sad about not being happy enough.
Perhaps action is necessary, rather than words and thoughts. Perhaps eating and buying things that we need, really do spark gratefulness, if there is mindfulness.
To all the shopaholics: Please crumble up this article and know that this is not in any way helpful to you. Moderation is always key.
Still, stopping to spend time with loved ones, enjoying good food, buying things that we need within our budget, finding gifts for those who are near and dear to express our love, these are all very good ways to show thanks for our circumstances—and organic ways to enhance our level of contentment.
I wish you all happiness, gratitude and blessings all year through.