Perhaps I exaggerate.
As a Muslim married to a Christian, I have the opportunity to celebrate twice as many religious holidays as most people. I suppose it also means I have the opportunity to be twice as sacrilegious when I say I think Thanksgiving may be my favorite holiday.
Eid-al-Fitr, the holiday at the end of Ramadan, is right up there, but there is a great deal more effort involved to reach that particular holiday. Thirty days of fasting takes its toll, but it really makes you appreciate the feasts you receive on the holiday.
Easter has a lot of great aspects, and celebrates a major Christian tenet, the resurrection of Christ.
Eid-al-Adha, the holiday celebrating sacrifice and Hajj, reminds us of the need to help those less fortunate.
Christmas is coming up — as a kid growing up that never celebrated Christmas, having a couple weeks off just because was great.
Thanksgiving is supposedly a celebration of the founding of our country and the help the colonists received from Native Americans. Let’s be honest though — very few people celebrating Thanksgiving take the time to commemorate the original feast from ~400 years ago. We do not discuss the debt our country owes the original inhabitants of this country, and we don’t discuss the Trail of Tears or the many injustices the Native American population has faced since settlers came here from Europe.
Costco Pie — The Real Meaning of Thanksgiving
As currently celebrated, Thanksgiving is perhaps the most secular, unaffiliated, unconnected holiday on the calendar (at least of that ones that receive real celebrations). It denotes the start of the winter holiday season, Christmas shopping, and many other things. It’s an excuse to visit family and friends and overeat without really celebrating anything.
It’s the most American of holidays, and that includes ignoring the real history behind it. If you’re not convinced, watch this video.
Nothing is more emblematic of this holiday than my favorite pie from my favorite retailer. The Costco Pumpkin Pie. It’s 3.5 pounds of pumpkin goodness. Yes, that’s POUNDS. It costs $5.99, and it’s only available during the holiday season (though the wonderful human behind this Twitter account is trying to expand its availability).
Last month I managed to eat 1.5 of these pies entirely on my own. Yes, I ate 5 pounds of pumpkin pie on my own. I would’ve had more, but I had to share with the boys. I’m not exaggerating when I say I love all things pumpkin, I love pumpkin pie, and I love desserts.
Gluttony, Thy Name is America
Yes, Costco Pumpkin Pie is everything that is right and wrong with this country. It’s a celebration of wonderful food, a quantity and quality of food at a low price that most people in the world could only dream of receiving. It’s also emblematic of excess, something else for which our country is notorious.
I don’t feel good about eating 5 pounds of pie. I thoroughly enjoyed eating it, but I can’t say I feel good about it.
I purchased another pie for us to share with the friends we’re having at our house on Thanksgiving. The initial plan was to purchase three: one for me, one for my good friend, and one for the wives/kids. I dialed it back a little, but the lack of fridge space was the true rate limiting factor. My cholesterol levels will thank me for the restraint.
Enjoy Your Feast & Be Thankful
I meant it when I said I love this holiday, gluttony and greed and history not withstanding. It’s an unabashed reason to visit friends and family, to take time for yourself and your kids, to remind yourself of what you have to be thankful for, even if we don’t remember those whose giving enabled this holiday.
I’m excited to have a small Thanksgiving with only a handful of people — this will be the first time in a long time it will be a small group. While I’ll miss the people we are not seeing, I’m looking forward to something new. My wife is an amazing cook, and I expect to be in a food coma by dusk.
I plan to make a donation to our local foodbank, to ensure those who are unable to enjoy a feast.
I also plan to donate to a Native American charity, something I’ve never done in my life. I’m not well-versed in them, however I identified the Native American Heritage Association as a good candidate (it scored 92 on Charity Navigator).
So regardless of your religious affiliation, regardless of where you are spending your time on Thanksgiving, don’t just be thankful for the good things in your own life, think about those who have helped you (and this country) be where you are today.
No Friday post this week — I will be back next week!
So how are you demonstrating your thanks this Thanksgiving? Please share below!