Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Why You Won't Find Me Posting 30 Days of Thanksgiving

It's November, the official month of thanks, and gratitude has hit Facebook like a runaway train.  An entire month of peer pressure induced public displays gratitude.  The November challenge encourages Facebook users to post something for which they are grateful every day through the entire month of November...a full 30 days.  It seems all sweet and utterly American.  What could be better?

I have mixed feelings about this.

Maybe because my Facebook newsfeed is clogged with posts I really care nothing about.  I don't care that 27 of my friends are thankful for their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  I don't care that you are thankful for your super intelligent and overly perky children.  I don't care that your spouse is the love of your life.  Yet I'm forced to scroll through scores of status updates of syrupy thanks just to get to a decent Grumpy Cat meme or under-researched political rant.

Some of those gratitude posts just don't make any sense anyway.  Some go something like this: "Day #4: Today I am thankful for my parents, because without them I wouldn't be the person I am today."  Well, duh.  You'd be completely different.  I mean even all the crappy stuff your parents did to you helped make you the person you are today.  Are you really thankful for those things, too?  But I'll admit you are totally right.  Without your parents, you'd be a totally different person....right down to your DNA.

On the other hand...gratitude is a magical thing...and there's far too little of it in our culture.  We easily get bogged down with all of the things we don't have, the newest version of the iPhone, a perfectly thin wrinkle-free body, a million dollars.  We focus on all of the things we want, but don't have...and then when we get them we start focusing on the next thing society and the media tell us we need to consume.  Plus we like to complain.  It's just so darned easy to find things to complain about, like my kids never picking up their socks, my spouse never listening to me, the lack of money at the end of every month.  It's rare that you hear the good things that are going on in someone's life.

The really cool thing about expressing gratitude is that the more we do it, the more things we find for which to be thankful.  And the even cooler thing...the more things we find to be thankful for, the fewer things we'll find to complain about.  It's like if someone tells you to think about caterpillars...really, really think about them.  Go ahead, give it a try.  I'll wait.......Did you think about caterpillars?  Good.  I bet you weren't thinking about popcorn, did you?  That's because you were too busy thinking about caterpillars.  Being thankful works the same way.  The more we think about the good things in life, the more we count our blessings, the less we are distracted by the not-so-good things.

But seeing all of this gratitude gushed all over Facebook, kind of makes me cringe in the same way that obnoxious public displays of affection make me feel uncomfortable.  It's like taking a walk down the street but glimpsing as you go dozens of your friends making out with their significant others right there on the public sidewalk...and sometimes it's the really sloppy kind of kissing, complete with slobbering suction noises and inappropriate groping.

Also, since there's an awful lot of social posturing on Facebook in months that don't contain feasts of turkey and mashed potatoes, I have to wonder about the motives behind all of these gratitude posts.  Are all of those people trying to convince their friends that they have the most wonderful spouse, perfect children, great friends, and an amazing life?  Is it bragging in the guise of gratitude.  Is there an online persona that they are trying to maintain.

I kind of like to keep my gratitude on the down low...kinda like my displays of affection.  If I'm thankful for how thoughtful my husband is...I'm more likely to just tell him than to paste it all over Facebook (It's really just between me and him anyway)....just like my hugs and kisses are generally reserved for the privacy of my own home (unless I'm trying to embarrass my kids...then all bets are off).


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