I have complicated feelings about Thanksgiving. Primarily because this "holiday" essentially celebrates the colonization of Indigenous people and their land (historically characterized as an amicable event), which has somehow now been indoctrinated into us as something we should be grateful for. Aside from my own personal views, I, however, have no qualms with long weekends. They are a wonderful time to reflect, read for pleasure, and spend quality time with loved ones. I summed up 7 things worth reflecting on over the next three days.
1. Money Is Not Happiness
Money is a tool. Not a purpose. At the end of the day, no one cares about how much stuff you own. You can be a millionaire and still be miserable or disliked.
2. You Are Nothing Without The Unconditional Support Of Your Loved Ones
I just finished this short, but haunting, autobiography by Susannah Cahalan. She recounts her struggle with anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis, a rare autoimmune disease. She suddenly went from a healthy 24 year-old to someone who experienced paranoia, psychosis and eventually an inability to formulate sentences. Her biological parents, who were divorced and barely spoke to one another, worked together to provide unconditional support for their daughter. They even alternated writing to each other in a shared notebook, in order to document their daughter's medical updates when one of them went off to work. Susannah's boyfriend also visited her every single day, despite not knowing if or when she would recover. Without their advocacy and support, Susannah may have never recovered.
3. Prioritize Rest
If you don't make time for yourself, you will burn out. Slow down. We glorify being busy as if that's an indicator of productivity. It's not. Be selfish. Do things that you enjoy, not things other people say you should enjoy. You'll be much happier.
4. Go Outside
On a perfect autumn day, there is nothing more enjoyable than going for a long walk, preferably in a park with lots of trees. It forces you to look up from your phone and immerse myself in the overwhelming beauty of nature. Best of all, it's free.
5. It's a Privilege To Be Able To Eat A Delicious Meal With Ingredients That You Don't Have To Think Twice About Purchasing
We may not be completely happy with our financial situation, but we are lucky enough to buy groceries without questioning whether it'll impact our other basic needs, like paying rent. Cooking a nice, healthy meal requires money. We are privileged in that regard.
6. There Are Tons Of Workers Who Don't Get Time Off
Example: My girlfriend. Luckily though, she has a (unionized) job that provides a living wage, generous pension plan and decent healthcare benefits. There are many workers who don't receive any of these benefits. Let’s give some extra thought to vulnerable workers forced to work this weekend, especially migrant workers, assembly line workers, and other precarious workers who are relegated to gruelling labour-intensive jobs and get paid minimum wage.
7. We Still Have A Ways To Go
The fact that we still celebrate this blemished mark of Canada's past shows that things still need to change. While the federal government is finally taking some responsibility for their actions, there are still politicians, like this senator, who perpetuate harmful stereotypes about Indigenous people (if you want more comedy/tragedy, you can read her other remarks here and here). This weekend should serve as a reminder that, again, it's our responsibility, as decent human beings, to stand up and address the racist conventions that still exist.
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