Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year (in the U.S., anyway). It's secular, so everyone can participate, and its theme is graciousness, the act of giving thanks. And although it's pretty much confined to the United States, its origin--that of New World explorers, in 1621, relying on the generosity of the indigenous American inhabitants--wasn't limited to Plymouth, Mass. Before brutally enslaving, raping, and slaughtering their indigenous hosts, Europeans relied on their largess to survive. Even today, throughout the world, we have a much richer culinary tradition due to the centuries of experimentation and cultivation by the first Americans--corn, potatoes, chocolate, etc., etc. (Mex Files has a Mexican Thanksgiving story that even delves into the origin of mestizos, the mixed-race descendants of Spaniards and Meso-Americans.)
Now, 400 years after the first Thanksgiving, even in these difficult times, there's much to be thankful for. As a U.S. citizen, I'm thankful for being lucky enough to come from a country that, even though I harbor a host of plaints against it, provided me with the circumstances (educational, societal, economic) that allow me to explore and learn about our neighbors to the south. (Check out a chart that Otto unearthed about U.S. poverty--there's nothing easy about being poor, no matter where you live. But being poor in the States is different than being poor most everywhere wlse.) I'm thankful to have a voice, as small and shrill as it is, to critique, condemn, and call out the powers-that-be, whether foreign or domestic. I'm thankful that the past eight years is nearly over, and I'm thankful that my next adversary in the Oval Office, Barack Obama, isn't as embarrassing as the last.
I'm also thankful for my family and friends. I give thanks to the lobsters and the cows that produced such a great meal in New Jersey yesterday. (And I'm thankful that more and more people are choosing to respect the animals they eat by thinking about the food industry and not shying away from its brutal realities. Check out the Brooklynite's turkey-day post, and be sure to click on the link to the turkey-slaughter slide show--it's a bit gruesome, but did you think that turkey meat's grown in the lab?)
And I am really thankful that for the past seven months I've enjoyed the present-day generosity of the people of Latin America, all of them--the Spanish, the mestizos, the indigenous, and the rest (even those jerks that jumped me in Lima weren't as scary as some of the folks I've run into in Brooklyn).
I'm also really thankful that I'll be heading back in a little over a month, to observe a political process that continues to unwind in that crazy landlocked Andean country, Bolivia. Thank you, people of Bolivia. I've supported some of you, I've scorned quite a few of you, too. I'm looking forward to continuing this conversation next year!
Lastly, thanks to all you that have read this blog. It's nice to have a voice. It's even nicer to be listened to.