Today as part of my Thanksgiving celebration I will be taking part in a number of activities. This morning I will be donating platelets at the Red Cross, which I think neatly covers the GIVING part of Thanksgiving. Later, once I have returned home, I will be baking a cherry pie and a batch or two of vegan shortbread. This, in addition to the pumpkin pies I baked last night, will be my contribution to the grad student Thanksgiving dinner. Basically those of us who are single or otherwise unable to return to our more or less loving families for this holiday ("Thanksgiving Refugees," if you will) pool our efforts to create a holiday celebration with some sort of mutant menu. From what I understand, this menu usually includes a "Tofurkey" for those vegeterians who attend. I have also been informed that one of our resident vegans is making the mashed potatoes and, so, aforementioned potatoes will have neither milk nor butter in them. I just hope the vegan in question remembers that vegetable margarine nicely simulates (given appropriate care on the part of the cook) the taste and effect of butter in cooking, but contains no animal products. The generosity and fellowship of my fellow grad students, however, will more than make up for any culinary oversights.
Now, I am an atheist, and so really don't have anyone to be thankful towards, but this holiday is still about more to me than sheer gluttony. It is a time to consider what I have in my life that I may be grateful for. I am, of course, thankful for my health and that of my family and friends, thankful for having a job I love, a warm home, and a relatively safe life. I am thankful that I have the time and education to think about issues larger than my next meal, or where I will sleep. I am thankful about all these things, but even more I am thankful for all those things that I don't have.
Human existence is defined as much by our goals and aspirations as our accomplishments. In order to truly be a full human being, in order to grow and develop, one must experience lack and hardship as well as plenty and satisfaction. Though I surely bemoan the tragedies in my life when they occur, I am grateful that they do occur, for without them I would not be the man I am, or be able to grow into the man that I will become.
I am thankful for my life, in all of its joy and its sorrow, and am grateful that I may live it, whatever the future may bring.
To all, a happy Thanksgiving.
UPDATE: In an unexpected turn of events, the Red Cross gave me an entire pre-made pumpkin pie as a thank you for donating today. Bloody hell! Now I have two homemade pumpkin pies, one homemade cherry pie, and a store-bought pumpkin pie. I believe I have finally reached the point where I have more pie than you can shake a stick at, regardless of the size of said stick. This is to say nothing of the vegan shortbread I took out of the oven about an hour ago.
Maybe Kieran will take some pie...