November 21, 2012

Atheists Can Be Thankful Too

Thanksgiving Background
Thanksgiving Background (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
This is the time of year when those clever Christians bombard social media with one of their favorite memes: atheists have nobody to thank and nothing to be thankful for. I'm starting to think that anyone who is both a Christian and a moron is required to have a Twitter account and use it prolifically to share this message. Of course, atheists have plenty to be thankful for and a great many people to thank for it. Just because we are not interested in thanking gods does not make our thankful sentiment any less relevant.

Although Thanksgiving is a holiday I've never particularly enjoyed and have not celebrated for several years, I thought it might be fun to review my thoughts from previous posts on the subject. My guess is that they will not have changed much, but we'll see.

A Review of Past Thanksgivings

We start with 2005, which was the first year of this blog's existence (after being instantly created by Ju-HEE-zuhs). I wrote about the Christianization of Thanksgiving. I have certainly been exposed to this in the form of having dinner with those who treat the holiday as if it was a Christian holiday, but I was spared most of this ridiculous in my own home.

In 2006, I wrote about how I have never considered Thanksgiving to be a religious holiday even though I've known several people who would disagree. I said that I was thankful for having a job I like most of the time, my growing comfort in identifying myself as an atheist, my optimism about the growth of freethought, and my wonderful readers. All of this remains true today.

I sought to change things up a bit in 2007, describing myself as "content but not thankful." I said that I felt like "content" worked for me much more than "thankful" because it did not contain the implicit assumption that there must be an identifiable someone or something to thank. It wasn't that I didn't have people toward whom I felt thankful as much as it was that I felt "content" was a better way to describe my current status. This is still true today.

In 2008, I wrote about how I was thankful for the atheist movement itself. And even though I might prefer to jettison certain parts of it today, this sentiment remains true. I am thankful to all those who have worked so hard and continue to work so hard to establish and preserve the freedom from religion which I currently enjoy.

I felt like doing something a bit different in 2009, so I wrote about how I was thankful that the local Christians haven't killed me yet. Believe me when I say I remain thankful for this today! There is too much left that I'd like to do. My 2009 Thanksgiving was also characterized by a bad cold, a visit from family, and news that my family was concerned about my atheism. Perhaps this was part of what prompted me to ignore Thanksgiving completely in 2010.

I returned to a few of these themes in 2011, noting the absurdity of the claim that atheists have no reason to give thanks to anyone. I framed this as one more example of Christian privilege.

Thanksgiving 2012

As I sit down to write this shortly before Thanksgiving of 2012, it does seem like very little has changed. I will not be doing anything different this Thanksgiving than I do on any other day off, which is exactly how I like it. And in addition to feeling content about that, I am thankful for many things and to many people. I'm not sure why this should be so difficult for some Christians to comprehend, but there it is. Regardless of whether Thanksgiving is something you celebrate or not, enjoy your day.

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