I am writing this post because I think it’s important and also because I am in my apartment alone and have literally no plans for Thanksgiving.  I’ll probably have a traditional meal of…eggs.

So, let’s talk about the theme of Thanksgiving.  Giving thanks.  But here’s the thing: who do you thank?

Let’s say you’re healthy.  You could give thanks for your parents and their stringent adherence to vaccination schedules, or the people around you who wash their hands more diligently than you, you filthy pig, or you could thank yourself for not eating feces (I’m making assumptions here).

Similarly, what if you really like the weather out.  Who do you thank for that?  The Earth?  The Coriolis effect?  The Sun?  None of those things is an agent with will or intent, so they didn’t actually do any of those things on purpose because they’re not entities capable of purpose, so you can’t really thank them.  If you’ve been having a good week with your workout, do you thank the gym?  If your friends are in town for the weekend and you’re happy about that, do you thank them?  I guess, but that’s not really the same as the generic holding hands and “I’m thankful for…” that happen around the dinner table.

The point is that there are things that happen in your life that are just lucky, and no one deserves credit.  Then there are things that some person or group of people somewhere deserve credit for.  When the roads are clear, you can’t thank the snow for not falling but you can sure as hell thank the snowplow driver who got up at three.  Even then, though, he can’t hear you and you don’t know exactly who it is, so is that gratitude even meaningful?

Of course, the easy answer is that you’re thanking God for bringing all these conditions together and giving you a good year, and that’s fine.  I’m not getting into it right now, because it’s a holiday and I don’t care.  But if you don’t believe in God, then obviously that won’t work.

I don’t have an answer, really, except to say that you’re glad about something, which I think is a key semantic difference.  It’s important to keep credit where credit’s due, and it’s important not to lightly toss around terms like “thankful,” otherwise they become meaningless.

Just something to think about.

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