Grateful without God: A secular Thanksgiving

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This week, millions of Americans will pause before diving into the turkey, stuffing and gravy to give thanks to God for the bounty on their table.

But many of the nonreligious will also include a moment of thanks, as “secular grace” grows in popularity among atheists, humanists, agnostics, freethinkers and other so-called “nones.”

“We give thanks for what is happening here and now,” said Maggie Ardiente, director of development and communications for the American Humanist Association, which last week asked members to share their secular grace on its website.

“It is important for us as nonbelievers to recognize that we are lucky in the grand scheme of the universe and to spend this time with our friends and family, and the tradition of doing that once a year, whether you are religious or not, is a valuable thing to do.”

While secular grace addresses no deity and involves no spirituality, those who say it say it still fulfills a need.

Written By: Kimberly Winston
continue to source article at religionnews.com

24 COMMENTS

  1. We are going to have an awesome family dinner. There will be about 20 of us together and everyone save me will be thanking a god of some type or sort. They all think that they are thanking the same god, however, they all have incredibly wide spread constructs of what this god thing actually is.

    This morning, I got my kids out of bed early and we cleaned out our closets, gathered together jackets and coats and heavy clothes and drove down to the Philly Art Museum (Love park) and gave clothes to anyone who needed something to keep warm. It has been very cold lately and my kids have been taking their good fortune for granted. It was a quiet ride home.

    Now, we will go to the in laws and they will actually give thanks. And, i do not care that they will focus that thanks on their construction of god. I care that a lesson was imparted and a wider view of the world attained.

  2. Curious. My experience of Thanksgiving is all via US TV shows but, thinking about it, I don’t really recall god ever making much of an appearance. Maybe I just haven’t noticed but the representations seem to be mostly concerned with turkey and watching football.

  3. “It is important for us as nonbelievers to recognize that we are lucky in the grand scheme of the universe and to spend this time with our friends and family, and the tradition of doing that once a year, whether you are religious or not, is a valuable thing to do.”

    People are weird, no matter what. I’d probably end up like this after quite a few whiskies anyway, but definitely not while sober.

  4. Can someone, crookedshoes?, please define American Thanksgiving.

    For some reason I believed it was the early settlers thanking the native Americans for showing them how to find food and not letting them starve to death. Is this true at all?

    • In reply to #8 by alaskansee:

      Can someone, crookedshoes?, please define American Thanksgiving.

      For some reason I believed it was the early settlers thanking the native Americans for showing them how to find food and not letting them starve to death. Is this true at all?

      If that’s so, it was a move they’d live to regret.

      I thought the Australian Aborigines helped out the first settlers as well ?

    • Just like the construct of god varies from believer to believer, I would hazard to guess that Thanksgiving means different things to different people. You can google or wikipedia all the pertinent facts and dates of events and such…. But, in my life, Thanksgiving is a day where almost everyone has off from work and school. It allows for a day where everyone can get together and eat.

      Believers tie some type of “thank god for our bounty” thing into it and say prayers of thanks. Almost everyone looks to have too much to eat (and lots of people also have too much to drink). It is a nice day, provided you have the means to put out a large feast type meal.

      In my family, we have gnocchi in pesto alfredo sauce, candied yams, stuffed mushrooms, string bean casserole, stuffing, and a turkey. We also cook sausage and meatballs…. Before dinner everyone brings an appetizer, yesterday we had tomato salad, mozzarella with tomato and basil, roasted chestnuts, and an antipasto…. After dinner some bring homemade pies…

      We also make our own wine and have bottles of our Pinot Noir flowing most of the day. Our dinner is noteworthy because this year we had family members in their 80′s, others in their 70′s, also some in their 60′s, 50′s, 40′s, 30′s, 20′s, teens and yes, two newborn infants. We bullshit all day laughing and telling stories. It is a crowded, hot, house full of folks that love one another and I must confess, one of my favorite days of the year.

      In reply to #8 by alaskansee:

      Can someone, crookedshoes?, please define American Thanksgiving.

      For some reason I believed it was the early settlers thanking the native Americans for showing them how to find food and not letting them starve to death. Is this true at all?

      • In reply to #17 by crookedshoes:

        Thanks, Crookedshoes, for the evocative description of your Thanksgiving Day. It sounds similar to Christmas Day here (in New Zealand). Do you do it all over again on Christmas Day?

        • Cairsley,

          Christmas eve is the most unreal day in our family. My in-laws (who are from Calabria, Italy), make a traditional 7 fish meal. However, we break from tradition and prepare 13 different fish dishes! We have clams (casino), oysters (fried), and mussels (in red sauce), bakala (in red sauce with black olives, potatoes, and sun dried tomatoes), crab cakes, lobster raviolis, whiting, talapia (baked with butter, lemon, and tomato), shrimp cocktail and butterflied, cioppino fra diavlo with angel hair, homemade Ceasar’s salad with anchovies (my contribution is the homemade Caesar’s dressing)… Calamari with cherry pepper marinara (another one of my specialties).. Everyone buys, prepares, and brings a different dish, with my FIL and MIL making the lion’s share of the food. BTW, I haven’t bothered to mention the appetizers!!! Zeppolis and homemade pizzas and stromboli!!! Antipasta, tomatoes mozzarella and basil with vinagrette….

          The menu changes and evolves, but we have to plan in advance and divy up the expense and cooking responsibilities. My in laws live 300 feet from my front door. My wife and I get up early and go over and make the pasta from scratch and help prep everything. Over thirty people come to dinner and the table (more than 15 feet long) deserves to be in a magazine. We eat drink and laugh and love. I was fortunate enough to be accepted into this wonderful family over 24 years ago and I often think I am smart, but never have I been smarter than when I asked my wife for a date (she said “no”), and subsequently asked her to marry me (she said “yes”).

          Christmas day is at my house and we have an open, revolving door. The older folks in the family stay while the younger folks visit their various in laws. My wife makes a traditional italian spaghetti with meatballs and sausage and bracciole, and we have lots and lots of picky left overs!

          Thank you for indulging me and providing me the opportunity to be so self indulgent. I get one life. I live it. I love it.

          In reply to #22 by Cairsley:

          In reply to #17 by crookedshoes:

          Thanks, Crookedshoes, for the evocative description of your Thanksgiving Day. It sounds similar to Christmas Day here (in New Zealand). Do you do it all over again on Christmas Day?

  5. There is an element of thanks given for the harvest, which in most of N. America is now gathered, and stored. A local newspaper article describes a farm family, whose male head of household recently passed away, leaving a large crop (over 200 acres of corn) un-harvested. The word went out, and more people than could be accommodated came with their equipment to have a massive “bee” with 8 combines, multiple tractors and wagons to get it all in before the snow. I guess praying for multiple combines works better than it does for amputations.

    Canadian Thanksgiving is on a different day than in the US.

  6. I was born on Thanksgiving, so I’ve always just thought of it as my birthday. I’m a semi-vegetarian (I don’t eat beef, pork or poultry, but I do eat fish, eggs and dairy products) so roasted turkey is not part of my life.

  7. Thank humanism and may it keep us doing more good to make this world a better and more humane place. Our humanism is ours to own. There is no god to thank for. If not….we would consider the likes of those inhumane terrorist to be very humane. This world becomes better not becos of belief…it becomes better becos of our actions with one another and to one another.

  8. BTW,
    The night before Thanksgiving is nicknamed “amateur night” because of the number of drunks driving. The college kids come home from schools where typically, they walk to the bar. Now they are home and drive to the bars. When you add their traffic to the traffic of drunks that are driving around because they also have off on Thursday, and you have a really hazardous, typically tragedy filled night.

    I’d imagine that many of the people that give thanks on Thanksgiving mention somewhere in their prayers “thank you for getting me home last night without killing myself or anyone else.” It is a disgrace.

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