18 November 2005

Thanksgiving

The first year we were here in Australia, we celebrated Thanksgiving, because, frankly, I like the holiday. It's a good opportunity to feast and to celebrate being with friends and family. Since there isn't a similar holiday in Australia, we decided to expand upon it, and to celebrate what is important in our lives and what we're grateful for. While this might be the original intent behind Thanksgiving, I'm not sure I'd ever really celebrated it that way. My family got together with some far away cousins, aunts and uncles, had a mini-reunion, and napped in front of whatever game was on the TV in the afternoon. We'd say a perfunctory grace and that was about it.

In redefining Thanksgiving for ourselves, we also chose to make it a declarative holiday. We invite a couple dozen friends and family members for a feast, go around the room, say what we're thankful for and state up front something we intend to do in the next year that we'll be grateful for.

The first year, we invited a friend who declined, saying he didn't want to partake of an American holiday. Indeed, in Australia there's so much cultural influence from the U.S., I can understand his unwillingness to participate. I'm also aware of how much the original holiday was tied in with European imperialism (I'm mostly aware of how we repaid the native peoples for their hospitality with disease and possession of their lands).

Anyhow, all those thoughts will go through my head as I celebrate Thanksgiving this weekend. We're having a smaller shindig than usual. I think we had 30 people last year, and that was a bit much. I didn't get to spend time with half the guests, and that no longer makes sense. I'll miss those people who won't be over this year, but, among other things, I will be grateful for more intimacy.

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