Thankfulness

A post by Chris RowanThanksgiving holds an odd place in my mind. Like anyone exposed to modern culture, with its strong twist of Americana, I am aware of the holiday’s existence and many of its associated trappings. And yet I have never really paid much attention to it as an event. Of course, now that I have established myself on the western side of the Atlantic, there’s no chance of that this year.

Despite the somewhat contentious historical roots of Thanksgiving, I do quite like the concept of taking a moment to navel-gaze about the better aspects of one’s life. We’re fairly melodramatic as a species, which means that we often end up paying more attention to the bad things in our imperfect world. But ‘imperfect’ does not mean ‘thoroughly horrible’*, and making sure that there’s at least one day in the year where tradition forces us to balance out our whinging tendencies seems like a good idea to me.

Of course to fully embrace Thanksgiving, I myself need to list all of the things that I should be thankful for. Well, technically, I suppose I should also be stuffing my face with as much roast turkey as I can, watching some deviant approximation of rugby on the TV, and getting in an epic family argument. But I can start with the list.

  • Despite some equipment arrival and functionality issues, my last post-doc appears to have produced some publishable data. It might even be interesting.
  • It’s still early days on the new post-doc, but I believe I’m really going to enjoy my time here in Chicago. I’m getting a good vibe from both the place and the project.
  • Having jumped through all the requisite bureaucratic hoops required of me both before and after arrival in the US, it should be several months before I have to wait for hours in some joyless concrete monstrosity to get a form stamped.
  • I get to go to AGU this year. There will be beer, and geoblogger/tweeter meet-ups. And more beer. And interesting conversations with friends and colleagues. And yet more beer. And interesting science. Did I mention the beer?
  • I live on a planet where plate tectonics creates lots of interesting geology, that I can spend my life puzzling out.

So it seems that I do have a lot to be thankful for. In fact, 2010 has been pretty awesome in ways that I would never have thought possible this time last year – and 2011 looks like it’s going to be even better. And it is a good feeling to acknowledge that. Fear not, though. I’m not going to let sunny American optimism overwhelm my British cynicism too much – which you may or may not be thankful for…

Right. Now where’s the turkey?

*Calvinists may beg to differ.

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Comments (4)

  1. Susanna Taylor says:

    I’m glad you have so much to be thankful for. I’m also glad you’re not going to give up your British cynicism just yet, I’m not sure I’d recognise you if you did.

    Enjoy your Thanksgiving dinner.

  2. Dana Hunter says:

    Huzzah! You’ve survived your first brush with that old American holiday. Now it’s time to lock and load for the next great American tradition: the War on Christmas! ;-)

    Happy rest o’ your first Thanksgiving!

  3. Karen says:

    I hope you’ve been able to come to the tradition of thinking about things to be thankful for, without succumbing to the mind-bending banality of the other aspects of the holiday. We Yanks can take anything to excess, and we outdo ourselves at Thanksgiving and Christmas. So, on to the next excessive holiday…

    Being an atheist myself, I tend to treat Christmas as another sort of Thanksgiving; another opportunity to be thankful for the good things in my life (supportive husband, great extended family, successfully defending my MS thesis…). I highly recommend it as a positive way to celebrate the holiday, regardless of one’s religious beliefs.

  4. Changjun Ji says:

    I like what you said ,although my english is not very well.I will pay my attention on your blog.