One of the things that I found irksome about monastic life was the liturgical calendar. There were aspect I enjoyed, like learning about the saints, but there were emotional demands that I found annoying.For example, Lent is a time for reflection, penance, repentance and self denial,
The liturgical calendar is just one example of how there are social expectations that we will feel specific emotions on demand.
One of the many reasons I do not own a Television is that I do not like to be emotionally manipulated by commercials, 'news' or programs. I prefer to have authentic feelings that are generated by real people, in real situations that are part of my everyday life, I have found that reality is much more enjoyable when I do not have the influence of created / pseudo / augmented / virtual reality that often becomes a comparison and contract with the reality of my everyday life.
There is enough social pressure in the reality of daily life without the added writer generated social pressure of virtual life, virtual 'friends' and make believe - mixed with the influence of advertisers and dramatic political manipulation that seem so real. In short, I like feeling what I feel naturally, I do not like to have my feelings manipulated.
Having said this, Thanksgiving seems different to me. Although socially we are clearly instructed to be thankful or there is something very wrong with us, Thanksgiving seems natural to me. Taking the time to take stock of what you are thankful for as a family is a good thing. I have long abandoned the original Thanksgiving propaganda of the Pilgrims and Indians giving thanks together at a big meal, but I do retain the notion and hope of estranged and conflicted groups coming together to give thanks.
As the world becomes increasingly more atheistic the concepts and expression feelings of giving thanks and gratitude become increasingly interesting to me. Even fundamental atheists feel the desire and need to express thanks and gratitude, but to whom?
I believe we have this inner desire to give thanks because something within us clearly knows that what we have, who we are, and life itself comes from someone that can receive our thanks and our gratitude. We also know we 'should' be thankful, even if we do not fully realize who to thank.
On this day of Thanksgiving - I am most thankful for God and His love. I am thankful for all circumstance, my greatest teacher, and for the change that allows circumstance to teach me new lessons. I am grateful for friends, old and new, present and past, who help me grow through their love, support and otherwise, and for family, the nursery of my growth. I am thankful for progression and the opportunity to be something great through the grace of God. I am grateful to get what I need more than what I want so that I can be what I desire.