Thanksgiving Advent Calendar Wrapup

Well, that worked, I think. Twenty four entries and about 20,000 words written, on things I was thankful for, both serious and not-so-serious. The point of writing it, as I noted in the beginning, was to focus on the holiday of Thanksgiving itself, rather than see it as the opening bell to a five week holiday season. Thanksgiving deserves to be more than the opening band for Christmas, which is essentially what it’s been relegated to at this point.

It also reinforced a point that I already knew but which was worth considering daily on a conscious basis, which is that there is a lot in my life I have to be thankful for. The list of twenty four things in the Thanksgiving Advent Calendar is not exhaustive — there are many other people and things I could have put in there, including other family members, specific friends and associates, pets and so on. It wasn’t meant to be a definitive accounting. The act of taking a moment each day to be thankful, and to communicate that thankfulness.

Writing it was a challenge in a couple of ways. The first was that generally speaking I didn’t plan in advance what I was going to write each day: I sat down with a blank screen and thought of something at the time. This is why many of the calendar entries were related to what I was doing each day — travel and fans being prime examples. I thought about writing things down but then I figured that if I couldn’t on a daily basis decide on something I was thankful for, then that said something in itself. Fortunately coming up with something on a daily basis was not difficult.

In another thread on the site, I was reminded that originally the Thanksgiving holiday in the United States had a religious basis, so for an agnostic like me, what or who was it to whom I was giving my thanks? The answer is that in most cases I’m giving thanks to those most direct to my thanks — so when I was thankful for friends, those to whom I was thankful were my friends themselves; when I was thankful for hand sanitizer, the thanks went to those who invent it and make it, and so on. In the more existential cases I suppose you could say my thanks went to the universe at large, which arranged itself very nicely for me, even if there was no intent on its part to do that. In cases like that, being thankful is as much about being mindful of one’s good fortune as anything else.

Several of you reading took the time, in comments and e-mails, to thank me for writing the Thanksgiving Advent Calendar; my answer is, of course, that you are most welcome. I’m glad you got something out of it. I don’t think it’s something I’ll do every year — it was a fair amount of writing, and one of the reasons I could do it is that I’m waiting on a contract before I start writing my next major project — but doing it this year was fun and useful to me in its own right. I hope it inspired each of you to think of the things you are thankful for as well. If it did, then it did what it was supposed to.

17 thoughts on “Thanksgiving Advent Calendar Wrapup

  1. And thanks from me, too. It’s been fun, and it reminded me that I’m bloody lucky and rather rich in my own way, too. And that I like shooting things in the face in computer games.

    On the agnostic note, I see that the Prez is getting flak for not mentioning god in his Thanksgiving address. I’m reminded of the people who wrote in to complain that Captain Chesley Sullenberger said he was too busy to pray whilst ditching in the Hudson.

    I don’t like people like those commenters.

  2. I personally observe Thanksgiving in the sense of “publicly acknowledging that which we are thankful for”. One of the traditions we usually do at Thanksgiving dinner is go around the table and have people list something they are thankful for. We usually go around a few times. It’s really great and can be quite an improvement over the complaining about shopping/weather/politics/etc that the conversation might take.

    While it may have started as a christian holiday, I see no reason that it be a christian monopoly about who can thank whom or how.

    I also tend to observe thanksgiving in the sense of “introspecting on my awareness of things I am subconsciously thankful for and bringing that thankfulness to the conscious level”. I get wrapped up in the same complaints about shopping/weather/politics/etc, and sometimes that makes me forget that, hey, I live in a world with anesthesia and antibiotics and microscopic surgery and cars and electricity and a bunch of other advances which I often take for granted.

    And it also makes me thankful for my friends and family, so I try to make a point to stay in touch or reconnect.

  3. It was very good. Too many people nowadays look at Thanksgiving as ‘the day before Black Friday,’ or ‘the day we pig out on turkey.’

    So, Thank You, John, for the reminders.

  4. Thanks from me too. As someone who doesn’t observe Thanksgiving (being English) it’s been very interesting to read, and one thing I’ve liked is how your posts have ranged from the apparently trivial (hand sanitiser) to deeply significant (eg, the last one). I keep a gratitude journal, and that ranges from being thankful for heating, hot water, living in a country where the rule of law applies, to personal things to lovely sunsets. I do find it makes me more appreciative of the good things in life – and there are many such.

  5. I liked this series because it reminded me to think of something to be thankful for everyday too. In fact I think I may just start putting down a few words everyday about something I am thankful for in my journal.

  6. Thanks for the idea. Thanksgiving was my favorite holiday, celebrated with friends, when I was young. The day itself is now simply a day of paid leave (as is Christmas), but acknowledging good fortune is always worthwhile. I did my own advent calendar thingy and found it a useful exercise. I made a partial list of possible topics on my first day but ended up writing on what sincerely moved me on the day I was writing; something always came to me. (Writing is not something I enjoy so mine was quite modest, less than 3,000 words for 24 entries.) I enjoyed reading your entries and looked forward to them.

  7. A wonder filled series of posts, showing a real understanding of thanksgiving. Thank you for all that you’ve given us to be thankful for this year.

  8. @Dana

    “It was very good. Too many people nowadays look at Thanksgiving as ‘the day before Black Friday,’ or ‘the day we pig out on turkey.”

    It isn’t? /sarcasm>

    actually it is a day I look forward to because I can pig out on some of my favorite foods, cooked by some of my favorite cooks–not to mention personally supplying home made biscuits this year.

    I give lots of thanks that I’m surrounded by people with at least a couple hundred years cooking experience under their belts, because no matter how tough things might be at that moment, knowing that you are going to have a good meal can make things a lot lighter sometimes. :D

  9. I probably should have written ‘ *just* the day …’ But it was implicit in my mind. Agreed re. a good meal .

  10. I appreciate this series as well. If nothing else, it was a lovely reminder that sometimes we can be deeply thankful for simple things.

    But it was more than that – it was a reminder to look at the things in our lives that we consider mundane until we stop for a moment an realize how precious they really are.

    Although I was suprised that the fuzzy creatures didn’t rate a mention :)

  11. I’ve enjoyed the Thanksadvent entries greatly. Think I’ll give mention to–and credit for–the idea tomorrow on my radio show. I’ve done Thanksgiving weekend shows with a what-I’m-thankful theme before, but I tended to be very general, and devote an entire set to music, or friends, or whatever. The thought of fitting 25 different thankfuls (about how many songs fit into two hours of radio) would be terrifically intimidating if I hadn’t seen you do just that. Also inspired to include the trivial as well as the profound, as you did. Though I won’t have Coke Zero in my list…

    Thanks for a thoughtful and inspirational month.

    (BTW, If anyone’s interested, the Saturday Cafe airs 11am-1pm PST, and you can listen online.)

  12. It is interesting that you mention Thanksgiving is not just the day before black friday. One of the things I am most thankful for is that nobody in my family has even the slightest desire to participate in what I view as a reasonable argument for a communist economic system being imposed on the country (half joking).

    Thanks for 24 interesting reads. Its pretty cool when someone who gets paid for doing something well gives it away for free – I’m thankful for that too.

  13. I enjoyed reading the posts. I am a newbie to this blog and I “lurked” through all the Thanksgiving/Advent posts. I especially enjoyed the post where you talked to potential readers in the future, after you are gone. Not that I enjoy the prospect of you being gone (I don’t), but the idea of people in the future missing out on the people, places and things in your life was a really good one. Of course, this assumes that they can’t travel back in time and meet those people…

  14. John,

    Being agnostic myself I “Thank the Stars” for the many blessing in my life. Perhaps this is something you could adapt to and being a science fiction writer it would seem to suit your lifestyle well.

  15. Thanks for your Thanksgiving advent. It was a good reminder that we should pause and take a moment to think about all the things we have to be thankful for. I know very few people if any who take that time so your blog was a helpful reminder.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  16. I think this is a great idea. I hesitated to say so, because if I voice approval of something you’ve done as often as I FEEL approving of something you’ve done, I’ll look like a suckup to anyone who reads the comment threads here on a regular basis!

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