Thanksgiving is weird

I mean, I get the sense of having a thankfulness holiday.  I don't think there's something wrong with that.  And I get why it's a feasting holiday, because winter and harvests and starvation and stuff.  Not totally sure why you do it with your family, but whatever. I'm not saying Thanksgiving is bad.  But it's really weird.

Mike at Idea Channel posted a quasi-video about the weird aspects of going home for Thanksgiving, and the weirdness of the idea of going home in general.  That's a big part of it -- it's always weird visiting family, because the social structure of the US has changed so much that keeping up with the rituals that made sense when you lived in the same town as your family for your whole life has become sort of alienating.

And even though we're at a point, with our available technology, that we could, each individual family, organize our own Thanksgiving style reunions around the calendar -- just like we could organize our own gift-giving holidays and collective celebrations of the passage of time -- we stick to the existing rituals, the existing food traditions and the existing dates.

As a result, we have massive clogs of airports and highways on particular days every year, and we have events like Black Friday, the formal beginning of a whole season in which everybody buys everything for serious though.

There's a weird sort of doublethink about keeping it to the same day.  On the one hand, if you said "Get rid of Thanksgiving," people would insist that it's important to have a day when you get together with your family, that letting yourself feast for real one day a year is important and life-affirming, and so on.

On the other hand, if you said people should organize their own family holidays, start their own traditions, most people would look at you a little funny.  There's something apparently implicitly wrong with trying to start a ritual, in the same way that there's something right about keeping up with old rituals.

I think it's similar to the way that dates go way better if you go out for coffee or dinner, because you can't just agree to go and hang out with someone in some chairs and talk.  There has to be some sort of concrete preoccupation.

Anyway, this Thanksgiving, I'm thankful for the internet, for Google and YouTube and Boing Boing.  I'm thankful for the Vlogbrothers and the open source movement and for Wordpress.

I'm thankful for the good relationships in my life, and I'm thankful for the technologies that allow me to find and maintain them -- I'm thankful for OkCupid, for introducing me to my partner, and I'm thankful for the combustion engine, which allows me to see her regularly, and I'm thankful for language, which allows us to share a deeper relationship than just procreation and pair-bonding.

And I'm pre-thankful for the hypothetical future when social engineering allows us to organize important events on a rotating schedule so that the rest of the world can function more-or-less normally when any given group of people is having a party.