Happy Thanksgiving!

Once again it is the special day of the year (at least in the USA) to acknowledge and accept the good things in our lives. Especially those good things which we did not earn: care given to us when we were helpless, rights won for us even before we were born, an entire social structure built up for us so we don’t have to live in daily fear. So easy to take these for granted, but where would we be without them!

And here’s a song called Gratitude by Shelly Segal.

Happy New Year!

There is nothing really special about New Year’s day. We add 1 to the number that represents the year, life goes on, and somewhere around March we start writing the dates correctly on our checks. (Assuming we still write checks :)). But regardless of the total arbitrariness of the day, it is still a great time to reflect on the past 12 months and make plans and goals for the next.
Here I have listed a few of my reflections on the past year, and my goals and aspirations for the next.

Highlights of 2011:

  • Record attendance at the best American Atheists convention ever, at which my husband and I signed on as life members.
    English: The American Atheists atom symbol wit...
  • My first time to attend Skepticon!
  • Kentucky Secular Society was granted official non-profit status from the IRS (even after some rather humourous questions in their letter requesting further information).
  • For the first time, we hosted the family Thanksgiving at my house, and I roasted my first turkey. And was very pleased with how it turned out. :-)
  • And, of course, the word did not end nor did the rapture happen, much to the disappointment of the followers of Harold Camping.

My Goals and Aspirations for 2012:
  • Getting my vision corrected with Lasik in January! For once I will be able to see clearly as soon as my eyes open in the morning. That is something I have not had since before I was eight years old, and I am excited.
  • Attend the Reason Rally in March!
  • Attend Skepticon V.
  • Continue to write more in the blog. For most of 2011 I neglected to write much of anything, but I have started to turn this around in December. I intend to continue to write frequently using series such as “Why I am an Atheist” and in dialogue with other bloggers such as The Warrioress.
  • In general to focus more on the positive and uplifting in my inner thought life, and less on the negative.

Here’s to a happy, sucessful, prosperous, godless New Year!

On Hosting Thanksgiving in an Atheist Home

This year will be a big first for me–we will be hosting Thanksgiving in our home this year. We have plenty of space, and we have some time since my husband and I both decided to take vacation on the week after Skepticon. So, for that and for a few other reasons we decided we would go ahead and host the meal here. This will be generally for my family, since my husband’s family lives in Texas.

After getting the OK from my parents, I started going though my head of the things we would need to prepare and come up with a general timeline in which things need to be done. And then I thought, what about the Thanksgiving grace?

Odd, you may think, that an atheist is worrying about the “blessing” but it is actually a big deal to me. Every Thanksgiving meal I have ever attended has involved a prayer of thanks over the food, and even if I have not completely participated in the praying for the last ten years or so I still think it is good to pause for a moment of reflection before digging into the turkey on Thanksgiving. And I want to be courteous to my more religious guest who are probably be wondering what to do as well when we sit at the table.

I hate sermonizing and grandstanding, and I sure did not invite my parents over so that I could push atheism on them. I am thinking of a few options for what could be done for a few moments of grateful reflection before digging in. I just want to have a statement that directs the thanks to people who deserve it, and not to a mythical figure.

  • Saying a few words myself before starting the meal, something along the lines of “I would like to take a few moments on this day devoted to giving thanks to remember that we have all been affected positively by events we could not control, and people we do not know and will never meet. Before we dig in today let’s remember that none of us can take sole credit for where we are in life, and remember that the actions that we take in life will affect others around us in ways we may never know.” Or something like that…I’m still thinking this though.
  • Allow everyone at the table a moment to say what they are thankful for.
  • Have a moment of reflective silence?

If anyone else has ideas of what we could do or say feel free to post in the comments. Especially if you will actually be coming over tomorrow :)

EDIT: As it turned out, I need not have worried. The only formality we followed in the meal was waiting for everyone to sit before digging in, and conversations already in progress blended right into the start of the meal. It would have been akward to inject any kind of a ritual. So it was all good :)

Counting My Blessings

This Thanksgiving morning I am currently sitting in bed at Ed’s mother’s house hearing the sounds of recently-aquired family members downstairs. It’s an interesting feeling having been married less than a year now to be getting to know these people as family. Don’t know how to describe it exactly, but it’s been a good experience.

I want to list 10 things that I am thankful for in honor of Thanksgiving.

  • Family
  • Freedom
  • Freethought, and the freedom to express it.
  • My Health
  • Good water and food, not something that everyone in the world has.
  • A good job, especially in a time of high unemployment.
  • Science, for technology and for insights into who we are and where we come from.
  • Good friends
  • Good books
  • All the people who have gone before who have fought and sacrificed much for freedom for Americans, for women, and for atheists.

And that is a lot to be Thankful for.