Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Thanksgiving

There was no first Thanksgiving.

Not really.

Like most holidays around the world, this one was fabricated from legend that was without a doubt deeply rooted in truth, but nonetheless didn't happen the way people want to believe.

And that's okay.

We often get hung up on origin stories. Politics inevitably goes back to "the Founding Fathers" (capital F's); religion to the factual nature of the truths they hold dear.

Origins are important. Name any major company and there is a story behind its founding that is important to defining what that company is. A mythical beginning isn't critical to a company's success; but it adds just a touch of character, just enough flavor, to make it interesting.

Think of characters you like. Most, if not all, have some sort of an interesting origin. For every Walter Mitty, there are three John Rambo's.

We don't like Walter Mitty because he is so like who we are; we like those characters who are like who we want to be. That's the whole premise of Westworld.

So we created this myth about how Thanksgiving started. And it doesn't matter at all if there's truth in that origin story; because there is truth in what it has become, in what it is today. It matters what it is to you.

Once upon a time I focused too hard on trying to make the holidays (starting with Thanksgiving, ending with Christmas) into something worthy of a really fine origin story. And then I became an asshole, and I got frustrated because that wasn't actually the reality. At least not in my life. So I started wanting less. I cared less about fitting my life into that cookie cutter, which enabled me to care more about things that matter, about allowing my life to form itself to whatever is around it. Like water in a vessel.

Yet we cannot ignore the importance of the vessel. Water all on its own is just water. It is formless. Tradition is important; it is fundamental to our society, to who we are as individuals. This sounds contradictory, I know, to say that origin stories are not important but to then say tradition is important. The difference is that the former is just a story; the latter is the result of generation after generation interpreting that story.

For me, that's what Thanksgiving is.