It’s Thanksgiving and I am supposed to give thanks. Today is a bittersweet day. Bitter, because life at home has been hard lately. Sweet, because I have a lot to thank for, still. The green wave that spurred this blog and other planet saving adventures, is feeding my creativity, and my need to contribute in a meaningful way. And for that, I am incredibly grateful.
This first holiday of the season is also a time to reflect on the tendency I feel creeping inside, of equating celebration with spending and unbridled consumption. All the green (earth) resolutions, the new habits I have slowly taken on, are at risk of getting wiped out, in one green (dollar) slate. In my mind, ‘celebrate’ takes me to ‘give’ and ‘share’, which is all good. Where it gets derailed, is when I translate ‘give’ into, ‘spend’. I had a similar feeling last time I went on vacations to Paris with the children. In my world, ‘joyful’ does not mix with environmental restraints. Being a responsible green citizen, means work, and austerity, and who wants that, when one is on vacation, or celebrating? Yesterday, I noticed I became very careless with planning my car trips. My priorities shifted from trying to be green, to getting ready for the big event of today.
The green equilibrium I aim to achieve in my own life, is still very fragile, and has not completely taken yet. All it takes is Turkey Day, and I am thrown back to square one. Not quite, actually. One area in which I have made a sustainable change, is shopping. Last night, I watched a commercial for Target, with great dismay. Something about, ‘All stores opening at 6am, be the first one there for one exceptional day of shopping extravaganza’. Last year, I would have gone, and shopped like mad, at Target and all the other clothing stores. This time, I feel disgusted by such consumerism frenzy. Black Friday does deserve its name. The day after tomorrow is a day for morning the loss of the original Thanksgiving spirit.
Maybe today, we can set aside a few minutes to ponder the true meaning of Thanksgiving, as communicated in President George Washington’s national Thanksgiving proclamation in 1789:
“Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be—That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks—for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country…for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in the tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed…and also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions—to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually…To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us—and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.“
In this day, we do have lots to thank for. Our planet is still sustaining us after all. For how long, is the question? Will we continue to consume like mad, or will we relearn to tread lightly over the earth, like Native Americans from pre-colonialism times?