Yesterday afternoon (which is technically Thanksgiving Eve Eve), I had delivered something to another person at work and as I was leaving their office, I said, "I hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving." Because I knew it was unlikely that I would see that person today. And her response was, "HOW can you tell me to celebrate a holiday that is all about the oppression of Native Americans and celebrates gluttony?"
Look. I get it, I really do. There are lots of problems with American history, white privilege, and oppression and exploitation of non-white peoples. And I am also aware that the first Thanksgiving was not two groups of people joining together to sing "Kumbaya" and say that everything was perfect. (OK, I especially hope they didn't sing "Kumbaya," but you know what I mean.)
I do want the world to be better. I even try to do what I can to make it so, and I wholeheartedly support those who make it their lives' work to fight for justice.
But I also love Thanksgiving, and what it means in the most general sense. Yes, I know we should all be thankful every day, and I do try to do that. But I love that we have a national holiday devoted to that. It's the coziest of holidays, if you ask me, and I know that for some this holiday - or any holiday really - is fraught with stress and/or unhappiness, and that makes me sad. I am however not directly responsible for what others experience or feel on or about the holiday. I can only live my life with my truth.
And all of that was my long-winded and ranty way of getting to the topic of the people I interacted with on my way to work on this Thanksgiving Eve (btw, I hope you also enjoy today,Kym, since I know you also "celebrate" Thanksgiving Eve).
First up was a woman and her dog that I see on occasion when I am leaving for work. She appears to be a lovely young woman, and her dog looks like a mini-Golden Retriever. We always stop and say hello-and-how-are-you to each other, and of course I make a fuss over the dog. We had a lovely, if brief conversation, and she was looking forward to going to her parents' house tomorrow (with the dog) and enjoying the meal, even though she is disappointed that she has to work on Friday.
A few blocks away, I met a young guy with a black Labradoodle puppy (9 weeks old!) named Monty. As you can imagine, Monty was ADORABLE, and very kissy. The guy said he was a puppy who was "simultaneously cute and a demon," which made me laugh.
The I decided to stop and treat myself to a cup of tea at a place on the way. The young man who took my order said "Have a wonderful Thanksgiving," as he handed me my change, he also smiled. While I was waiting for my order, a guy moved in front of me to get a napkin. He had on a sweater with a really beautiful yoke design. I complimented him on the sweater, and he pointed to a woman nearby and said, "Thanks - but you should really compliment her, she knitted it. She also made me this hat," and the three of us proceeded to have a very pleasant conversation about knitting and knitting for those who appreciate it. (The sweater was this pattern, for those wondering.)
This was a really nice way to start a morning, any morning, but especially this one, after my last interaction of the day yesterday was with someone who gave me a lecture.
And you know what? These are some of the things I am thankful for - the actual kindess of strangers. People usually think that cities are just a bunch of nameless people ignoring each other, or worse, doing/saying terrible things and not caring. And trust me, people in Philadelphia do not suffer fools gladly (maybe that's why I like living here)! But it occurred to me that overall, I have more interactions like those this morning than negative ones. As a matter of fact, a lot of the negative interactions occur more with people I actually know.
So on this Thanksgiving Eve, I find myself being happy that people I do not know, some of whom I am likely to never see again, were able to be kind. I am happy that they reminded me that each of us is doing the best we can to get through life, and that it doesn't have to be perfect to be OK.
I hope your day goes as well. :-)