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I am participating in the UncoSynchro blog, a writing collaborative effort from #Unco14, focusing on subversive themes of faith and life. The theme for November is (Un)Gratitude. This is my first entry for the UncoSynchro blog, and I will participate monthly.
As we enter this season of Thanksgiving, this year I’m a bit more cynical. I don’t know why—perhaps it is because I never got out the Halloween decorations until the day off, and all my fall decorations that would have been out during October that would go nicely for harvest time are still in boxes. Maybe it’s because November begins on a Saturday, and we’re still so tired from a late night of Halloween. But I am not noticing the flood of gratitude posts on Facebook like I’ve seen the last few years, and I’m thankful for that.
Gratitude is something we should practice year-round, not just in November. Food drives for food pantries need to happen all year but especially in January, February and March—cold months in which unemployment rates are often at their highest in the U.S. We should be getting into this spirit of helping and serving one another and being grateful all year.
I know. Blah, blah, blah.
But I also know that January-March are some of the hardest months of the year. My father was a carpenter and construction worker for over forty years. He would work right up into November, when at some point he would be laid off when the weather became too extreme. We lived in Alaska, and even though winter begins where we lived usually the second week of October, delays from earlier in the year and relatively mild winter weather would push him on to November.
We always had Christmas. We were the family in which my mother would sew new clothes for us, and my grandparents would always send something. We also had aunts and uncles who provided gifts and so we never were without want at Christmastime. Until January. January through March were difficult times. My dad was often unemployed until March, when the weather warmed up, the snow was melting, and construction would start up again. There were some years in which he managed to get indoor work—cabinetry and remodeling—mainly when we lived in Anchorage—but not every year.
January through March is dark in the Northern Hemisphere. Even though the days are getting longer, without holidays and preparation many people struggle with seasonal depression more at that time of year than in the fall.
I’m UnGrateful for Thanksgiving to be in November. I think late February would be perfect. I think removing it from the myth of the Pilgrim feast with Native Americans that we have associated it with would be helpful. Rather, I think churches should create a new holiday: Gratitude Day, perhaps on February 28th, when we all pause and give thanks but share what we have, remembering that many have gone without for the past two months.
Don’t worry, I’ll get into the holiday spirit soon. I’ve got pumpkins and gourds to be repurposed into fall décor. I’ll be craving turkey in a few weeks. But I’m UnGrateful that we forget the dark and the cold of January through March, the people who struggle with unemployment and the families that are challenged in that time of year.
Release Date: October 8th, 2019