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"Yeah, Thanks" mind matters
November 28, 2002

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I'm so tired of everyone giving thanks.

We're all supposed to figure out what we're happy about, okay. But for days now the newspapers have been subjecting me to one Thankful List after another. They're all same, with their articulate introductory paragraphs and zillion "I'm thankful for" statements. People are thankful for children, album releases, Michael Jackson, Enron stock, online airport check-in, democracy. They're heartfelt or sarcastic, silly or sentimental, personal or editorial.

Enough. It's all tiresome and completely irrelevant to my life.

The Thankful Lists of Abraham Lincoln or Albert Einstein might be interesting, but even those are a stupid waste of my time. They don't teach me anything. They don't resonate. Occasionally they're good for a sigh or laugh, like "I'm thankful for the fifth Harry Potter book, oh, wait...." Nothing more.

Why tolerate this drivel? Have you ever suffered through the ranting, uninvited monologue of someone on a bus? She starts listing her woes: my kids this, my job that, the commute this, the media that. Conversations with strangers are fun, but this isn't a conversation. It's a list. There's no room for interaction or involvement.

Be thankful, yes, please, but be thankful on your own. If you must share, share with the people who are most important to you, like your family, but keep me out of it. I'm a Thanksgiving scrooge, but neither am I about to bore you with the items I'm thankful for. Believe it or not, Thanksgiving is a time for introspection.

This isn't obvious. Television commercials show huge families with huge turkeys, and the news luxuriates in the pessimism of airport delays and traffic jams. Thanksgiving is like a tiny reunion, a chance to catch up on the details of everyone's lives (which, by the way, is a big reason this holiday can be stressful). You're expected to be talkative and personable, and maybe even dress up a little. But introspective? Yes, I say.

Create your own list, and don't tell anyone. Maybe write it down as a letter to yourself, and deliver it to yourself next year. Ignore the newspaper pundits who insist on what was great about 2002. If on your own you neglected Homeland Security, Survivor: Thailand, and seedless grapes, then admit you have no thanks to spare for them. Find out where your thanks is really going. Be selfish.

I challenge you to find a moment of silence this holiday to reflect on your life. Figure out the good parts. Don't allow yourself to be influenced by family, friends, colleagues, and newspaper columnists until you've figured out for yourself why you're even celebrating. If nothing happy comes to mind, be thankful next year can't be worse. And if that doesn't work, then stay home and watch Star Wars. Again.

I'm thankful I can think of something.

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Copyright 2002 Seth Maislin

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