I’ve never been one to mince words about my thoughts on various holidays. From my flagrant disdain of the ones that I feel are trivial, unnecessary, and grossly over-commercialized, to the handful that I think are necessary and meaningful. I’ve mentioned on countless occasions that if I were in control of the calendar, most holidays would be eliminated from the mix all together. It’s not that I’m a Scrooge, or a curmudgeon, or anti-celebratory, or even a cheap ass; I just don’t approve of the fact that so many of the holidays we celebrate, even the ones that were once deeply rooted in religion, ethnic significance, or legitimate historical events have become nothing more than excuses for either people to overindulge and make asses of themselves, or businesses to drain us financially.

Let me cite a few examples to illustrate my point. I am head over heels in love with my wife. That’s certainly not news to anyone. If I were so inclined, I could go out today and purchase her a dozen long stemmed roses for about $17.00 and bring them home for no reason and tell her I love her. If I were to purchase that same dozen in the second week of February they would cost me about $70.00. Yes, I’m aware of the basic principles of supply and demand. But do any of us actually know what the real meaning of Valentine’s Day is? Or are we just a society of puppets who instinctively line the pockets of the rose growers, Hallmark, and candy companies just because we’ve been conditioned to think we are supposed to, and if we don’t, our significant others will be upset. I don’t need a designated day to show my bride how much I love her. And if you require a day to remind you of that same thing, maybe it’s time to reevaluate your relationship.

I’m American born with a German lineage. I have absolutely no reason to dress from head to toe in green and drink until I’ve made a complete buffoon of myself on a day in March. I understand that St. Pat’s Day has a legitimate meaning to those with Irish heritage, but I’m not one of them nor do I pretend to be.

By the same token, I’m not Mexican either. So I don’t use Cinco de Mayo is an excuse for debauchery either. That holiday, in recent years is the perfect illustration of my point of how we as Americans will use any excuse to act goofy. I’m not knocking these days to those whom they actually have meaning, but if you are out tying one on for a holiday that you have absolutely no idea what it’s meaning is, than you are part of the problem.

I could use the remainder of my space here to go on a rant about what Christmas has become as opposed to what it originally meant. That’s the ultimate example of what the commercial machine has done to us, and how easily influenced we are. We live in a society now that has become so incredibly and tragically thin skinned that some of us celebrate holidays without even knowing why, while others have the audacity to get offended by the rituals of those who have a legitimate grasp of said holidays.

I recall an actual news story from the past decade about how a county in Washington State had banned Halloween because it was offensive to those who practice witchcraft. Not even I can make that shit up. Welcome to the new America.

And now I will flip my two sided, and admittedly sometimes hypocritical coin. I do in fact celebrate many of these holidays, and I do so with vigor. I’m not going to deny my children the experiences and childhood memories simply because I have difficulty wrapping my head around how the birth of Christ morphed into flying reindeer.

The holidays I do in fact enjoy the most, and celebrate with sincerity, are those that I think genuinely are necessary and more often than not are the ones that entail giving thanks to those who are worthy. Just a few examples off the top of my head are Mother’s Day, Independence Day, Veteran’s Day, etc. But my all time favorite holiday is Thanksgiving.

Personally, at the risk of sounding cliche, I wake up every day of my life thankful for all that I have. And I have A LOT to be thankful for. We all should, and we shouldn’t require a designated day to remind us of that. But what I love most about Thanksgiving is that it’s centered around all of my favorite things while eliminating most of the ones that I loathe. It’s a day to spend with the people you love most – just eating, and enjoying each others company, and being thankful for having them in your life. There’s no gaudy pointless decorations. There’s no exchange of gifts, unless of course you bring a bottle of wine or a covered dish. And really, that’s nothing more than being a courteous guest to a gracious host. Yes, I’ll admit that I do thoroughly enjoy the gluttonous aspect of the day and watching football, but what I love most is being around the people I love and taking turns talking about what we have to be thankful for while appreciating those less fortunate.

I do find it ironic that we spend that day being thankful for what we have considering that a tragic number of us will wake up early the next morning and camp out in the pitch dark to trample our fellow man in the hopes of getting a discount on shit we don’t really need. But hey, once again, welcome to the new America.

Despite my negative facade however, deep down I am so excited about Thanksgiving. I’m thrilled to see the people who mean the most to me in my life and I’m innately appreciative that they exist. Please take my sometimes tongue in cheek words of irony in this piece for exactly what they are. They’re not intended to be cynical or to poke fun. It’s just my way of trying to remind everyone to keep their perspective.

This time of year, I always think about my favorite piece of American art. It’s a Norman Rockwell work titled “Freedom From Want”. If you’re not familiar, it’s a portrait of a family sitting down for Thanksgiving dinner as the patriarch of the family prepares to carve the turkey.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. Please keep in mind the first syllable of that word as you sit down to enjoy the day.

Thanks for playing along. Until next week, Syd Nichols