Expressing Gratitude on Thanksgiving

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Get a little tryptophan and cheap wine in the bodies of most Americans and what you’ll get is a schmaltzy & oversimplified list of things that people are thankful for on the 4th Thursday of November.

How many people are honest when they give thanks around the dinner table? We’re all thankful for family, friends, and the plentiful harvest of Butterball turkeys and French’s Fried Onions. Does anyone ever admit to be thankful for the guilty pleasures in our lives?

  1. I’m thankful that I married a man who knows how to save money so I can spend it.
  2. I’m thankful that I live in a town with two Starbucks so I can go to both of them on a daily basis and maintain some level of anonymity.
  3. I’m thankful that I found a woman who gives me great highlights. I wish I could see her more often.
  4. I’m thankful that my parents did something right and raised me with a sense of compassion towards animals.
  5. I’m thankful that I don’t have children who suck my checking account dry.
  6. I am thankful for unemployment and the freedom to spend time writing about Human Resources instead of working in the field of HR.
  7. I’m thankful that I have a nice car with satellite radio so I can listen to POTUS 08 and stay on top of the latest presidential news. I also like the heated seats.
  8. I’m thankful that I’m not in Iraq, nor do I know anyone currently in Iraq or Afghanistan. As a related point: I’m thankful that we don’t have a draft in this country.
  9. I’m thankful that my husband & I live in a town where the cost of living is really low.
  10. I’m thankful that I live in a nice house with plenty of space for my books, my belongings, and my cats.

What? Does that seem selfish?! I am thankful for these conveniences in my life because I know that I am one of the lucky ones. So let me say thanks for cable TV and wicked-fast internet, and let me offer gratitude for things like my brand new dishwasher and my favorite purse.

The American version of Thanksgiving is a dysfunctional team building event for families & friends. There’s nothing worse than hearing sententious statements of gratitude from people who are total assholes most of the year.

Is it just me, or do most of us toss off a statement of gratitude around the dinner table because we feel compelled to say something nice to the people around us?

“I’m thankful for this overcooked turkey and this really awful opportunity to spend time with the people I love who traumatized me as a child. Now let’s binge eat!”

(Do I hear kumbaya in the background?)

Thanksgiving reminds me of Corporate America at its worst — everyone pins their hopes on one day where the pettiness stops and we hope that our relatives & friends respond to the appeal to our ‘better selves’.

Unfortunately, our better selves usually don’t emerge for very long and everything goes back to normal on Black Friday.

If you’re going to express gratitude, this Thanksgiving, I’m challenging you to be honest. Tell me what you’re most thankful for and don’t lie to me. I’m appealing to your most authentic & honest selves out there.

Update: HR Wench accepted the challenge!

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