Thanksgiving is a controversial holiday, amongst skeptics because it insinuates that one is thanking a deity and amongst normal people because it celebrates a mythical friendship between Europeans and the people they slaughtered.

I think the former concern is stupid (feeling grateful for things has nothing to do with a god) but the latter concern is valid and important to acknowledge. The thing is, I like Thanksgiving in the way I celebrate it, anyway, just as I like Christmas despite disliking all the Jesus stuff people still vainly try to attach to it. I like a holiday where I’m reminded of all the ways in which I have a pretty great life — in a way, I think of Thanksgiving as the ultimate privilege-checking holiday. (Ironically, I can see it that way because I’m not Native American.)

Anyway, I guess my goal is to acknowledge how problematic the holiday is while still going ahead and using it as an opportunity to talk about what I’m thankful for. My list is probably a lot like many of yours, if you happen to be as lucky as me: friends, family, a home, a loving partner, the world’s greatest cats, an amazing team of Skepchick Network contributors (admittedly you may not have direct access to them all like I have, but I hope you’re also thankful for them. These sites wouldn’t exist without them.) My aunt died this week and I made a last-minute decision to drive 8 hours to see the family, thanks to my friends Gary and Jeff lending me their zippy little car. I can only stay for a day before I have to head back to prep for a flight to Australia, but then, I’m thankful for that, too.

I’m thankful to the many conference organizers who invited me out this year, sometimes despite intense pressure from my haters to not do so. I’m thankful to all the audiences I addressed, who were all enthusiastic and supportive. I’m also incredibly thankful to all the people who wrote me supportive comments, messages, and emails. There were far too many to thank individually, particularly after my Slate article (maybe once I stop traveling I’ll have time to try anyway), so I hope this suffices for now. I read and appreciated every one.

I gotta run now because my dad’s gonna teach me how to play the drums. He swears I can learn but frankly he overestimates my talents and/or his teaching abilities. But I’m thankful he’s willing to try.

Terrifying but cruelty-free turkey image from here

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca leads a team of skeptical female activists at Skepchick.org and appears on the weekly Skeptics' Guide to the Universe podcast. She travels around the world delivering entertaining talks on science, atheism, feminism, and skepticism. There is currently an asteroid orbiting the sun with her name on it. You can follow her every fascinating move on Twitter or on Google+.

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16 Comments

  1. Avatar of criticaldragon1177
    November 22, 2012 at 1:07 pm —

    Rebecca Watson,

    I want to wish everyone at skepchicks a happy Thanks Giving.

  2. Avatar of scribe999
    November 22, 2012 at 1:22 pm —

    I don’t “celebrate” Thanksgiving per se…but I’ll take the day off, and the excuse to hang with some family/friends. I’ll even take the football (though I truly wish the Cowboys were not part of this ‘tradition’).

    Anyway, regardless, I hope everyone has a good day…every day!

  3. Avatar of Louis Doench
    November 22, 2012 at 2:17 pm —

    Happy Thanksgiving Rebecca and all the Skepchicks, you keep us informed, entertained, aware of our failings and educated in how to overcome them. I wouldn’t be half the skeptic I am if I had not found you folks.

  4. Avatar of Luna
    November 22, 2012 at 3:58 pm —

    Sorry to hear about your aunt. :(

    We also use this day as an opportunity. We celebrate the way the ancients used to, foraging and being grateful for the Harvest. This year especially. With people all around us affected by Sandy, I’m thankful to have a hot shower and heat. I also call my Apache friend every year and say “Happy Day the Wampanoags saved the Pilgrims”!

  5. Avatar of Luna
    November 22, 2012 at 4:11 pm —

    Also we have fun gearing up for Buy Nothing Day and the Winter Solstice.

    This is a great time of year to flip out the hardcore Traditionalists. You don’t even have to be mean, just be honest. A woman on one blog scolded me because I said we’d be having non traditional food. She called me out for not following tradition.

    And just say Happy Holiday (sincerely) and say you celebrate the ancient farming traditions, the Solstices etc, the pissed off Evangelicals and Fox News fans really come out of the woodwork. It’s fun.

    • Avatar of punchdrunk
      November 22, 2012 at 8:02 pm —

      You reminded me that I’m thankful I’m not on facebook. :D

      • Avatar of Luna
        November 22, 2012 at 8:23 pm —

        LOL well I’m not on Facebook either, this was a cooking blog! Who knew? :0

      • Avatar of Luna
        November 22, 2012 at 8:24 pm —

        (The right wingers hide in the woodwork everywhere, dontcha know!)

  6. Avatar of Bryan Feir
    November 22, 2012 at 5:13 pm —

    Well, happy Thanksgiving, even though we celebrated ours over a month ago.

    And, honestly, it has just never seemed as much of a religious observance here in Canada as it seems to be in the U.S. It’s a harvest festival, really…

  7. Avatar of knitty
    November 22, 2012 at 5:42 pm —

    I’m thankful for Skepchicks and that I too celebrated Thanksgiving over a month ago. :)

  8. Avatar of Grand Lunar
    November 22, 2012 at 11:28 pm —

    - “The thing is, I like Thanksgiving in the way I celebrate it, anyway, just as I like Christmas despite disliking all the Jesus stuff people still vainly try to attach to it.”

    I find a nice work-around to the Jesus stuff is to refer to the holiday as Saturnalia.
    True, we’re not Romans, but I think it’s cool. Besides, we can always adopt a modern version, to honor the ringed planet, right?

    Anyway, I find myself thankful for places like the Skepchick site. It offers me a daily dose of skepticism that’s all too rare in real life.
    You’re all a great bunch.

    -“…friends, family, a home, a loving partner, the world’s greatest cats…”

    *sigh*
    I envy you for the last two items…..

  9. Avatar of embraceyourinnercrone
    November 23, 2012 at 1:33 pm —

    I do love causing the Traditionalist to flip out, in a gentle fun-poking way. This year we celebrated being able to visit with everyone in the family and make fun of the Cowboys. Then we went home and played Cards against Humanity with friends, I think that is a new tradition at my house, well that and the Bailey nogs (1/2 eggnog and 1/2 bailey Irish Cream….yum)

    For December we are contemplating celebrating Festivus…

  10. Avatar of kevinv
    November 25, 2012 at 10:36 pm —

    Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. All the jobs i’ve had I get both the Thursday and Friday off. The holiday is about family coming together with no gift giving (which completely stresses me out at christmas time.)

    Since no one in the family insists on shopping at all that weekend it’s mostly a 4 day stress free break. Good times.

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