Blog by Sumana Harihareswara, Changeset founder
I think I've only ever felt rather fond of one…
Hi, reader. I wrote this in 2001 and it's now more than five years old. So it may be very out of date; the world, and I, have changed a lot since I wrote it! I'm keeping this up for historical archive purposes, but the me of today may 100% disagree with what I said then. I rarely edit posts after publishing them, but if I do, I usually leave a note in italics to mark the edit and the reason. If this post is particularly offensive or breaches someone's privacy, please contact me.
I think I've only ever felt rather fond of one US holiday, and that's Thanksgiving. Fourth of July -- too jingoistic. Christmas -- too hyped, commercial, and sentimental. Valentine's Day -- too hyped, commercial, sentimental, and contributes to a narrow, anxious, immature, overhyped view of romantic love. New Year's I've always considered part of Christmas, and people around me never seem to be in the retrospective mood I try to assume in the last few days of the year. I'd like Labor Day and May Day if I knew about associated relevant activities and traditions I could cheer. Mothers' Day, Fathers' Day, et al., I see as rather low in the fun-to-obligation ratio. I neither commit nor experience clever pranks on most April's Fool Days.
But I like the sanitized, dehistoricized meaning of Thanksgiving. I like thinking about things for which I should be grateful.
But today I experience my first Thanksgiving as an agnostic, which poses particularly new problems: whom should I thank? What does it mean to try to stay in a state of gratefulness when many of the things for which I'd like to thank someone who could appreciate it didn't really happen because of anyone's act of will?
Perhaps I can view this as an opportunity. I'll trace causality -- if I can -- and thank people and places and historical forces, and try to achieve awe at the vast banyan trees of contingency.