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Thanksgiving holiday is one of America’s best

Thanksgiving holiday is one of America’s best
By Ron Isaac

Of all major holidays, Thanksgiving Day has the least potential for being irksome, guilty of identity protectionism or driven by balkanized loyalties and passions. It’s the most inclusive of holidays. It’s not ideology-based and harbors no invidious implied comparisons with other nations, faiths or ways of life.

It has no agenda. It is universal in appeal and relevancy. It is, in the broadest and deepest way, a “wide-size fits all” dignified celebration. A sense of gratitude has at least fleetingly passed though every person’s heart, and so the holiday has status and credibility with all spiritual traditions and for those independent of any.

Thanksgiving Day is unique.

New Year’s Day is associated with binge indulgence and noise. It is the culmination of a season of intensified loneliness and isolation. People who have no lover or have lost their parents can feel estranged from Valentine’s Day and Mothers and Fathers Day.

Memorial Day is a solemn day of quiet sanctity with love and sorrow as protagonists. Veterans Day extols the sacrifice of one nation’s soldiers, which is understandable but nonetheless exclusionary. Independence Day, an occasion for justified hoopla, is inherently boastful with spectacular fireworks that mime battlefield explosions. Labor Day is a worthy but politicized commemoration.

There are numerous religious holidays that are dear to adherents and convenient to motorists when alternate side of the street parking is suspended for their observance, but all theologies lend themselves to divisiveness.

Holidays that innocently glorify different ethnicities and national origins dot the calendar with colorful parades and sincerely welcome all comers to share in being #1 for the day. But sometimes pride can be balanced by awkwardness. Thanksgiving recalls a time before the commencement of unilateral hostility against indigenous peoples. By contrast, consider Columbus Day. Citing part of Columbus’s legacy as a product of his times, criticism of his undisputed cruelty to Native Americans has created justified uneasiness. That holiday has been co-opted by controversy.

Steuben Day has so far averted unpleasant historical references.

Presidents Day equally honors four dozen people, some monumentally great, others half-baked and a few quite villainous. They are honored for their job title, not for accomplishments that all our citizens drawn from around the globe can relate to.

There are also many minor holidays, such as Groundhog Day, but the one most exceptional is Halloween because it is somewhat exotic and whimsical. It is escapist, deliciously morbid and spurs fun parties, dreadful movies and public service annoncements about razors in trick-or-treat candy.

The only holiday that ranks with Thanksgiving as an inspiration, were we but better immersed in the lessons derived from it, is Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

That’s one end of the spectrum. What’s at the opposite? What is the most dreadful and rueful of holidays? We can all come together on that question: Election Day!

Ron Isaac

Fresh Meadows

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