Thanksgiving. It can be hard for many to appreciate the mindset of gratitude or thanksgiving when they're confronted by the history of the holiday itself. The mythologized celebration at Plymouth in 1621, for instance, belies the tragic fate of the indigenous peoples of the Americas that unfolded under colonialism, Manifest Destiny, the 19th century policy of native population removal, and countless broken treaties. And Lincoln's creation of a national day of "Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens" in 1863 was set within the bloody context of what many consider to be the deadliest war in American history, containing within it the hope of some future peace and harmony.
Today, it seems like it's more about food, football, and a prelude to the consumeristic orgy of Black Friday than a recollection of all the things that we're grateful for, mythologized or not. At least that's how it seems to me. But the idea of gratitude itself is something I've grown to appreciate. My life hasn't always been the best, and I haven't always been the best person; but there are numerous people and things I find myself grateful for if I reflect on it, yet I find that I rarely seem to have the time or mindfulness to cultivate that sense of gratitude and appreciation. It's not really a priority in our culture, and it's an easy thing for us to overlook. I'm reminded of the Buddha's words in AN 2.118: "These two people are hard to find in the world. Which two? The one who is first to do a kindness, and the one who is grateful and thankful for a kindness done."
The world can be a harsh and lonely place sometimes, and there are so many people I'm thankful for, too many to list. I just feel terribly grateful at this moment for the many acts and words of kindness given to me over the years. I'm especially grateful for the people who have helped me expand my knowledge over the years, so that I'm not only aware of the somber history that my high school textbooks completely glossed over but my own agency in fighting to change things and right past wrongs. And I'm also grateful for the many people who have entered my life and made it one worth living, including those who sent me such kind messages today.
I hope everyone has a good day/night regardless of where you live; and if you've taken the time to read this, I want to encourage you to take some time to cultivate a sense of gratitude and share that with the people around you in the coming days. I was personally surprised by how joyful the first message of appreciation I received today made me, and I want to help pass that feeling along to others. And part of that is to say how much I appreciate this site and all the people here, including my good friends @Brian, @Linc, and @federica.