So happy together

Faith in giving thanks

Thanksgiving is the kind of secular holiday all Americans can get behind.

Thanksgiving is the kind of secular holiday all Americans can get behind.

This is one of those weeks where, by virtue of deadlines, congealing circumstances and editorial license, I thought I’d write an essay regarding Thanksgiving, and the soulfulness of gratitude. I started out Sunday morning with a different plan: Hunter and I went over to the new Hindu temple, but since Saturday was the grand opening, everyone stayed late, and the scheduled recitation of Bhajans 10 a.m. Sunday went out the window. It’s cool, though. The gentlemen who greeted Hunter and I told us of some upcoming events that will make better column fodder. I did want to get the announcement of the temple’s opening in, though. It’s at 385 Gentry Way, 544-9138 or 412-5372. Information can be found at

It’s pretty obvious the temple is new and under development, and while there are representations of the gods, the permanent statues have yet to arrive. I’ll let you know when they show up.

• • •

At any rate, I received one of those massive spam emails that get forwarded from one elderly parental sibling to the next. Often they’re saccharine patriotic or religious or virulent anti-government messages, and often they have a kind of arrogant attitude that their logic is so irrefutable that no one could possibly disagree.

This particular message regarded the separation of church and state. The email suggested that if church and government are truly separated, people who work for the government should work on Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas. After all, if government and religion are really separated, these are just days, same as any other.

[Begin rant: I don’t even want to talk about how lame it is that people pass around this nonsense posing as information. It slows down the transfer of real information and clogs up my inbox. It is just one more piece of mental detritus that must be considered and dismissed, just one more eye floater distracting me from the real world. End rant.]

In this country, doesn’t the concept of a day of rest come from the Bible? (It began with a church-run effort to stop Sunday postal delivery in the early 19th century.) And isn’t that why many of us don’t work on Sunday? And in this country, isn’t freedom of religion guaranteed by the First Amendment? Doesn’t that amendment also guarantee freedom from religion? That’s why professional football players can work on Sunday.

So, here’s the thing: I personally agree with one of the fundamental points of that email missive. I don’t happen to believe that Christmas or Easter should be government holidays. I don’t think they should be days off for anyone (except Easter, which falls on Sunday), and I particularly don’t believe there should be one set of religious holidays favored over another by our government. So by that logic, it wouldn’t just be government employees who work on Christian holidays, but everyone. And if that’s not bad enough, I also believe we should all work on New Year’s Day. Why do we have a national day for the nursing of hangovers? It’s absurd.

But, Thanksgiving—now, Thanksgiving is a different thing. That day came straight out of our people and our government. And while Thanksgiving is a secular holiday, is there a religion or spiritual philosophy that doesn’t at some level show gratitude?

Of all the holidays we celebrate, Thanksgiving is the truest and most inclusive. I hope that when I’m considering all the things I have to be thankful for, I’m enough of a human being to recognize there are people out there who don’t have as much to feel gratitude for. I hope that that realization is enough to spur me to some action with more substance than sending an email trying to further my own beliefs at the expense of someone else’s happiness.