Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Point of the Circle

Just as the circle is the perfect figure, so is Thanksgiving the perfect holiday.  It requires neither more nor less to be entirely satisfying. 

The heart of Thanksgiving and the all of it is simply feasting with friends.  This is the core of all religious commemoration, of all reconciliation, of all exultant howling around the carcass of the prey.

Thanksgiving entails none of the ego of birthdays or motherdays nor any of the impossible obbligatos of Christmas which more often than people will admit are simply a set-up for misery.

No.  Thanksgiving can be celebrated anywhere, with anyone with as little or as much as one has.  It is always good.

But the idea of giving thanks has always appalled me.  I can't count the number of times, while my host has rattled through a veritable laundry list of things he is thankful that God has vouchsafed to bestow on him, that i have wanted to add:

... and we thank you Lord, for the terrified animal whose pain and death has provided us with these succulent loins to savour; and that Thou, in Thy Gracious Mercy, have deigned not to number us among those starving children who are this night wandering streets and sniffing glue to stifle their hunger; and we thank You also, Oh Fount of Mercy and Love, that Thou has been so  very good to us, your unworthy but fortunate servants, that Thou has not let us fall among those despised and desolate, the truly blessed recipients of Your Grace....
The idea of giving thanks for accounted blessings has always struck me as an insufferable exercise of egotism wrapped in self-deluding and hypocritical humility, no different in spirit than the miser, gleefully counting his coins. Does anyone give thanks for suffering and going without? Saints perhaps.  

How is it possible to be grateful for having without necessarily being grateful for not not having? The catholic prayers a table which i dimly remember were always on the aesthetic side along the lines of:  "teach us to hunger after your spiritual blessings as you have given us food for our bodies..."  That at least was more of a cautionary reminder than an indulgent or indifferent reckoning.

Some may protest that life cannot always be so morose and i would heartily agree.  There are times to simply exult and be happy... and bringing in a harvest that yielded rather than not is one of those times too.  But being happy -- and limitlessly so -- is not the same as numbering one's acquisitions and successes.

What makes the circle perfect is that it points nowhere.

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