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Five reasons why Thanksgiving is the best holiday

There isn’t a whole lot to Thanksgiving. A day off, a parade, a big meal and a couple of usually boring football games. No breathtaking gifts, costumes, or fireworks.

So why do I love it more than all the other holidays?

Reason #1: It’s more universal and inclusive than many holidays. Religious holidays like Ramadan, Easter, Diwali, Rosh Hashanah, Christmas, and Yom Kippur are special for their respective practitioners.  But they aren’t experiences that we can share broadly with other friends, neighbors and co-workers. Not everyone embraces Thanksgiving, but it seems like it has more participants than religion-based holidays. Thanksgiving’s celebration of blessings and gratitude can be spiritual and/or secular in nature, whichever the celebrant prefers. And in a tense pluralistic society, we need all the shared celebrations we can get.

Reason #2: It’s relatively non-commercialized. I make a big Thanksgiving meal for family and friends, but it doesn’t require weeks of preparation and a huge investment.  I also love Christmas, New Years, Fourth of July and Halloween, but the way some celebrate those holidays can be pretty expensive. For example, Americans nowspend more than $7 billion per year on Halloween. Thanksgiving, at least the way we do it, is relatively simple, affordable and approachable.

Reason #3: It’s nap-friendly. What other holiday are you allowed, expected even, to have a little shuteye mid-event? In a nation where lack of sleep is now considered a public health epidemic, a lazy, trytophan-laced holiday is awfully nice.

Reason #4: It’s effectively four straight days off. In the most overworked nation in the developed world, days off are precious commodities. For many, Thanksgiving delivers four consecutive days off.   How awesome is that? Not everyone gets a four day weekend out of the deal, but lots of people do, and that beats the heck out of all those one-day holidays.

Reason #5: Thankfulness makes us happy. The number one thing most of us want out of life is to be happy, and a day dedicated to contemplation about all of the blessings in our lives makes me very happy. There is a lot of science proving that being less self-centered is effectively self-serving.

For example, this 7-minute video shows how contemplating gratitude makes us happier, and expressing gratitude to another person makes us happier still. Watch it. It’s a more meaningful Thanksgiving pre-game show than John Madden offers.

Thanksgiving isn’t perfect. Native Americans certainly have every reason to be resentful of uninformed pilgrim glorification, though that part of the holiday does seem to have faded from prominence over the years. Moreover, a decent meal remains beyond the reach of too many families, much less a feast.  We can make Thanksgiving better by adding more generosity and historical candor into the traditional recipe. But all things considered, I’m always awfully thankful when Thanksgiving rolls around.

This post was written by Joe Loveland and originally published on Wry Wing Politics.

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Comments (4)

  1. Submitted by Ron Gotzman on 11/26/2014 - 10:14 am.

    History is important

    Washington, D.C.
    October 3, 1863

    By the President of the United States of America.

    A Proclamation.

    The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consiousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

    In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

    Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth.

    By the President: Abraham Lincoln

    William H. Seward,
    Secretary of State

  2. Submitted by Joe Loveland on 11/26/2014 - 11:43 am.

    Lincoln was an awesome President, but…

    were paragraph breaks being rationed during the Civil War?

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