Monday, December 1, 2008

Giving the Thanks-ish things.

Every year I sit down and go through a list of what I'm thankful for in my life, as do most Americans. In a moment of extreme arrogance, I'm going to float the idea that while a lot of them might be thankful for having food on the table, not a lot of them are really and truly grateful. It's expected, and expected that they'll have the means to acquire it. Food just appears in this society and is consumed, sometimes in abusively large quantities. And while I didn't set out to bitch, I guess that's where we're going with this. An attitude where there is enough food to be consumed in gluttonous amounts without using it for nourishment, without enjoying it, is an abuse of the resource. In the history of the planet it was only recently that we had the ability to produce such massive quantities of nourishment. Starving children in Africa aside, most Americans probably haven't had the priviledge of starving to be appreciative for their food. I give thanks for being in a society of such affluence that getting my hands on food is as simple as going to the gas station for a set of Twix bars. I don't have to carefully tend crops or pray the war stays away until after harvest so there's at least something in the cupboards for winter. I give thanks for being an American, and for being able to get my hands on something to feed myself. I give even more thanks that it tastes of turkey and honey-baked ham and sweet potatoes... and not ramen.
I was struck recently by the difference in two shows that had basically the same premise... get stuck away from civilization, try not to die. There was Man vs. Wild and Survivorman. And their reactions to being out in the wild were vastly different.
Where as one would talk about how starved he was, but how grateful he was for any nourishment that came his way (even if it was the most godawful tasting bug around)the other would declare everything to taste like shit and stress that he was only doing it for survival, otherwise he would never try it. Whereas one spent his time picking around for nourishment, constructing little shelters of things and generally just finding what he needed, the other went slamming through the wilderness like a child with a new baseball bat. He tore things apart, dug in to things, and generally destroyed anything he came in contact with. We had a good laugh at the second guy's expense with jokes of "Caught it, tried it, tasted of shit, raped it, left it to rot in the desert after setting its den on fire with its young still inside." Except that it really wasn't that far off. One was an American. One was an Englishman. I will leave it to you to figure out who was less the "leave only footprints" kind of guy.
But this is sort of what I mean. One man is grateful for anything that comes his way. The other...subsisting and begrudingly takes what is offered or captured. It's fucking keeping him alive, and he's talking trash about it. This sort of mentality can only come from someone who hasn't really ever been in danger of starvation a day in his life, and what's more, feels entitled to have something better. That's great to have such priviledge. But what most people don't realize is that it isn't a right, getting to have good food on your plate. It's a conjunction of national economic policy, socio-economic status, and just plain luck.
So with this little mini-tirade of mine, I'm hoping the point shines through that to be able to celebrate with a turkey and EVERY fixing that is a part of one's family tradition is amazing, and something truly worth being grateful for. I'm hoping when people say it, a good portion of them really, really mean it.
I was going to throw in something about materialism and the poor bastard that got smashed at Wal-Mart but I think the event really speaks for itself, along with all the major news outlets screaming over it right now. It doesn't needed the added weight of my two red pennies, honestly.
I'm grateful to breathe, to heat, and to receive and give hugs this year. I am grateful to have a good man in my life whom I love, and cats that come in for the cuddle the second I lay down. And I am grateful to have all the supplies I could possibly want to draw, paint, crochet, or do anything else with the arts. I'm pretty damned blessed.

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