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Giving Thanks on Thanksgiving

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I figure that logically everybody and their brother and sister has some sort of bit they will post on the Internet if they regularly post articles on the Thanksgiving that we will be sharing soon. Therefore, in the same way that I celebrate Thanksgiving because it's what Americans do, I am writing about Thanksgiving because that's what Internet writers do.

This Thanksgiving and as we roll into the Christmas holiday season I say that we are entering a time of the year when Americans increasinly show their true colors. It’s the time when all is revealed to us what makes us all really “American.” You know, think about how many prayers will involve supporting our troops, loving our country, and praying to God? In addition to that, here are some other "American values" that come out around Thanksgiving.

We all love our families (I think).

I traveled home from Chicago to my hometown in Indiana to see my family. It was a travel I had been eagerly awaiting because I love my family and was dearly missing the people who fill me up with feelings of love and compassion when I am with them. I could not wait to get home and share a meal and eat turkey and talk to them about all the little details of life that only people close to you care about---details that you cannot talk about in OpEdNews articles because nobody has a frame of reference or care for such little things.

We all cannot ignore Black Friday (I’m sure of this).

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I traveled home knowing full well when I got here my family would be giddy and excited about all the deals stores are offering on Friday. Value City opens at midnight. Best Buy opens at 4 am. Old Navy is giving away an IPod if you buy 50 dollars worth of merchandise. These were all things I were told but thankfully, this is all talk because none of them are going out. Nobody should be going out on Friday. With all the financial woes in this country, people should save their money and not shop at all.

Last year, when I came home, I went with my family to Wal-Mart to get a deal on a coffee pot. You have not lived until you get to witness the insanity. I saw people scrambling for toys to load in their carts and purchase with money they didn’t have. I saw people who I am certain work three and four jobs and can barely pay their health care bills and credit card bills. I saw people who have no idea on life except they knew they had to scramble for that sale on that DVD player or else. And I found in myself an appreciation for the fact that I do not need cheap electronics or cheap toys to make me happy.

We all value this holiday.

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This holiday is a vacation or time off work that by this time in the year people who work hard need. After subprime fiascos, Iraq war violence, health care bills, rising gas prices, credit card bills, threats of a war with Iran, civil liberties violations, etc., it’s time to sit back and eat. It’s time for some rest and relaxation. And because people are so exhausted, they fail to see the meaning behind this holiday.

Thanksgiving is a ritual. I haven’t the slightest clue what Thanksgiving really means anymore. I do know we aren’t doing this for the pilgrims and Indians who came together. We are doing this because we just do. And if we were doing this over the pilgrims and Indians, it would be near impossible to celebrate it because the story we were told on the history of Thanksgiving wouldn’t fly. Too many Americans know the pilgrims participated in genocide of Native Americans.

Yet, in the same way that people are willing to vote in America even when they know it may not matter, I am willing to participate in Thanksgiving even if I haven't the slightest clue what I am exactly celebrating. I do this because I believe we should as much as possible get together with family and friends for lunches, dinners, and evenings of love and compassion. And I do this because it is nice to spend time thinking about what you are happy about even if you can only find a small portion of life to be appreciative of. Times like these fight "either your with us or against us" attitudes that the Bush administration promotes in its policies economically, domestically, and internationally.

So, what am I thankful for? This is something I ask myself every time this year because my teachers asked me to do it throughout school and then I started to write online so I did it to share what I care about and then I commented on others comments detailing what they were thankful for. So, here it goes:

I am thankful for being able to go through college and not have to worry about paying a dime because my family was kind enough to know that I needed a college education and might not be able to pay for it. They have taught me to do this for my children and grandchildren.

I am thankful for being able to live in the residence hall that I do live in with a roommate from India that has broadened my perspective of life culturally in a way that I could have never imagined when I was in high school.

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I am thankful that I found a college nearby where I grew up so I can easily get home for the holidays and to add to that, I am thankful that decades ago workers needs’ led to the construction of a commuter train that allowed people to get from South Bend, IN to Chicago, IL. This train allows me to be home for the holidays easily.

I am thankful for being on the path to pursuing the career of my choice. And while I do not know what job or occupation I will be filling, it doesn’t matter. The uncertainty allows me to freely mold my mind and take control of my future without feeling boxed in and restricted.

I am thankful that I am politically and socially aware of what goes on in America. That awareness has allowed me to write OpEdNews articles that I believe people enjoy reading (if I am wrong, please let me know). It has also made me join the Kucinich campaign in Chicago where we have petitioned and spread flyers with the hopes of getting more people in tune with the “only real Democrat” running for president.

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Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof Press. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure." He was an editor for OpEdNews.com

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