Grimly Munching


Many people like something about Thanksgiving.

Getting together with family…or friends…or the game…or the food…or some other ritual that has become a part of our own individual observance of the day.

Many people don’t like something about Thanksgiving.

Getting together with family…or friends…or the game…or the food…or some other ritual that has become a part of our own individual observance of the day.

For many people, one or another aspect of Thanksgiving is a matter of grim duty.

For you, perhaps, the prospect of eating turkey falls under this category.

Many people don’t like turkey, but they prepare, present and consume it, because…why?

It’s expected.

It’s part of the expected ritual.

And so, on this one day of the entire year, they spend part of their time grimly munching on food that they dislike.

In the presence, perhaps, of family they dislike, friends they dislike or a game that they dislike.

Yet they grimly munch on.


As another matter of grim obligation, many people don’t like to face giving thanks on Thanksgiving.


It’s expected.

It’s part of the expected ritual.

And woe to the infidel who does not approach Thanksgiving with a grateful heart!

Now if, indeed, one is grimly munching on food that one dislikes, in the presence of family, friends or a game that one dislikes, one may find scant reason for giving thanks.

Or, perhaps, on a more serious note, one simply cannot muster the spirit to give thanks for continuous hits in the wallet; a career gone south; the realization of a misspent life; or serious illness or death in the family.

May one suggest that all people may not be able to orchestrate their spiritual or emotional lives around a particular date that has no intrinsic significance?  A date that has been assigned by governmental fiat?

I would think so.

Yet with the full-court press of a mighty Christian war, such individuals may find themselves to be the target of all manner of religious zealotry.

“What?  Not thankful?  You should be thankful that you are alive!  You should be thankful for what you have!”, etcetera, etcetera, ad nauseum…the trite phrases; the pat responses; the age-old idea that Christian passion can be enkindled at the end of a hickory stick.

Given that Thanksgiving is a date set aside by governmental edict, and that it is a date that probably has no relation to a historic feast in Plymouth, Massachusetts; given that many people would choose not to celebrate a Christian giving of thanks by commemorating the advent of Europeans to this part of North America; given that, for some people, the day and their particular circumstance are not meet

I would suspect that the spinners of Thanksgiving spiritual cant are rather more inclined to the hickory stick than to the message of Jesus Christ.

An inclination that has spawned more than one questionable tool of Christian witness.

An inclination that causes much merriment among those who are not Christian, as they celebrate and give thanks that they, themselves, are not Christian.


And so, constrained by their particular circumstances, whether material or spiritual, some find themselves grimly munching on prayers that they cannot abide.

What hope here?

A spirit of thankfulness is the result of an earnest pursuit that cannot be acquired by the presentation of a hickory stick or a grinning, joyous-looking Christian role-model who would seek to mysteriously infect their observers with “an attitude of gratitude!”.

A spirit of thankfulness is the result of an earnest pursuit that in no way measures the spiritual state of the Thanksgiving celebrant.

One who is not “feelin’ the season” is not an object of judgment.

Nor flawed.

One should no more be forced to feel thankful on a government-assigned day of the year
than someone who does not like turkey should be constrained to eat turkey.

There are other times.

There are other days.

Three hundred and sixty-four, to be exact.


Some people say that they do not celebrate Thanksgiving at all, because we should celebrate thanksgiving every day.

And there is some truth there, although it is hard to articulate that truth without sounding pious, patronizing, condescending and all of those things that stamp a “holier-than-thou” attitude.

Perhaps it would be helpful to remember that just as the pilgrims withheld a grand celebration until the harvest, rather than celebrate during the weed-picking season of high summer, there are timely seasons for all of us.

And it is hard to coordinate a universal celebration around all of the unique seasons of our individual lives.

So lay off the hickory sticks on November 26, 2009.

Let those who are “feelin’ the season” give thanks, and let others wait for more seemly times.

No guilt.  And no shame.

And, for heaven’s sake, if you don’t like turkey…

I absent myself here, for I genuinely like roast turkey…

Then eat something you do like.


I post new articles twice-monthly in "Author's Corner".

If you live in or near the Lakes Region of New Hampshire, and you would be interested in meeting with others for discussion and/or prayer, please contact me at  All are welcome, regardless of identity or personal choices.  Please understand that I do not have the resources to guarantee that I will be able to read or respond to all other correspondence.

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                                                                                                                                                              Rob Wright

Rob Wright holds advanced degrees in education and performing arts, and he has been a professional teacher for over seventeen years.  In his home denomination, he has served as a lay minister in liturgical, educational and ecumenical activities.  He lives in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire with his spouse of twenty years and their daughter.