What are you thankful for?
November is always a month of mixed emotions as far as I’m concerned. One reason is that my birthday falls on October 31st. As such I automatically enter November another year older – but not necessarily another year wiser… To be honest I actually enjoy the changes in the weather (within reason) the changing character of the landscape and the varying moods of the sea serve to remind me that nothing is stagnant. The first rains settle the dust of summer exhaustion and wash away what my family and I affectionately call the “summer stink”. Our car gets a much needed washing, so there is a silver lining after all. Of course the laundry issue becomes a bit of a bother; it is all a delicate balance of give and take, grin and bear.
November does have one thing I always look forward to. I know that to many the USA is considered the “root of all evil” for various reasons – not least among them the gross commercial exploitation of human sentiment, always most vulnerable as the holidays approach. There is one peculiar holiday that has escaped however, what we Yanks call “Thanksgiving”. The things I love about this holiday are that: a) the purpose isn’t gift giving/receiving or fancy “kitsch” decorations, and b) it is about good food, good company and being thankful for all of those little things in our lives that haven’t gone pear-shaped.
Thanksgiving is not a secular holiday. Regardless of individual religious beliefs everyone can find it in their heart to acknowledge the good things in and around them. It is a holiday that doesn’t generate obligations – such as the universally dreaded holiday greeting card list! Or even worse, the fear of having to buy gifts for people you don’t really know but that you must get something for at mortal risk of seeming a cheapskate, having bad taste or in some instances even being considered downright demented (truth be told, my unique sense of humor is not always appreciated).
As a family we always try to observe, in our own quirky way, what I consider the most humane holiday. In some ways it reminds me of the ancient rites dedicated to a Goddess that in modern times has been all but forgotten: Hestia, the Goddess of the hearth and protectress of home and family. Everyone remembers Demeter or Dimitra – patroness of the crops et al. But few remember Hestia, the Goddess of domestic harmony.
The world over the hearth is a symbol of warmth, security and human companionship. Study any culture or civilization you like and you will find one common denominator: there is nothing more sacred than the breaking of bread. The acknowledgment of the real human necessities: shelter, sustenance and compassion – is a humbling equalizer in an age driven by heedless consumption and mind numbing convenience. So as winter approaches let us try to be thankful for those little things that provide us pleasure, comfort and purpose.
Victoria Andre King is a freelance writer and audiovisual professional her novel The Führer Must Die is available for pre-orders and will be released on November 8th 2016 with Yucca Publications, an imprint of Sky Horse Publishing NYC.