By Salomon Maya
Thanksgiving. A beautiful holiday filled with gluttonous ways of stuffing our faces with tryptophan while watching endless amounts of football all in the name of giving thanks to a group of European settlers landing on a rock. Pass the gravy. From presidential turkey pardons to giant helium-filled balloons slowly floating in the cool autumn New York wind, I must ask: have we lost the meaning of giving thanks?
Becoming a first-time father has made me a perennial mush of a Jell-O-like substance parading in a form of pseudo masculinity. “What do I want to teach my son?” is a constant question in my mind. Thanks, or the act of telling someone else you appreciate them being in your life, has disappeared in a society fueled by social-media. We don’t call to say happy birthday, we “like” someone’s wall when Mark Zuckerberg tells us to. The word friend has also lost some of its wonder. Just the other day I was at dinner with family visiting San Diego for my nephews Bar Mitzvah (I’ll take the opportunity now to congratulate Gaston Maya on becoming a man – Mazel Tov, kid!) and the topic of friends came up. One of my cousins noticed that I have a low number of Facebook friends, which I joyfully acknowledged. She then stated it was odd to see a person like myself and the type of work I do (writer, advertising, actor, etc.) have such a low number of social media friends. I again said, “Oh I’m proud of that fact, most people who ask to be my Facebook friend don’t pass my test.”
It’s simple really. Imagine yourself walking down the aisle of a local grocery store prepping for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, your cart filled with a frozen Butterball turkey, canned cranberry sauce and the like. You see a person, let’s call them Aaron, walking toward you in the same aisle with a cart filled with almost the same items. Obviously, Aaron is also purchasing food for the holiday. Now, as Aaron and I walk toward each other one of two things can happen. Aaron can recognize me as being someone he knows, give me a polite nod, possibly even a smile, say “hi, how are you?” and keep walking … or … Aaron can nod, smile, stop, shake my hand and ask a mundane question like, “haven’t seen you in a while, how have you been?” or “I see you’re going for the Butterball on sale as well, you ready for Thanksgiving football? I got my fantasy team set!”
Did you spot the difference? That is the test: if I want to stop and talk to you in a local supermarket aisle, you and I can be friends on social media. You see, I do give thanks to everyone who has affected my life in any way, positively or even negatively. I truly believe that an overall positive attitude toward ourselves will lead to positive outcomes, but like in mathematics, the inverse is also true. If you are negative, you will surround yourself with negativity. So, if you like your Thanksgiving holiday to be about endless eating and football, cool, more power to you. But like the pumpkin pie at the end, save a little space for some gratitude to your fellow man.
And thank you, our loyal readers, for enduring my endless rants. It truly has been therapeutic to regurgitate the limitless tangents that populate my cerebrum and to be able to share them with you. It has not only made me a much better writer, but in all honesty, has made me a better person.