Monday, November 05, 2012

Jumping ship on the Facebook grateful trend

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of all time.  Growing up just north of Detroit we would always go downtown to the parade.  After, we'd come home, wrap up in afghans and drink hot chocolate.  That is, if we stayed awake past the warm, drowsy ride back home.  Later, we'd join the collection of the Sinki family at large for wonderful meal and even more wonderful laughter-filled visits.

I was just a kid, but was aware of how much more relaxed Thanksgiving was than the stressful joy of Christmas.  Taking time to be together to note the harvest (food related, and otherwise) of the year is such a simple ritual.

Over the past few years, it's become a growing tradition on Facebook to share something you're grateful for every day in November.  This year, I decided to hop on in.  Five days into it, I'm considering dropping out.

I have a zillion gazillion things to be thankful for: our insane transition into fall has started to calm down a little.  Henry's adjusted to his part-time school very well.  Willa continues to rock the first grade world.  Jim is doing some great things at work, will start teaching at the college again tonight, and still has energy and focus to be the loving and present dad and husband I knew he would be.  My big, scary exam is in the past (I hope, if I don't pass, I'll be taking it again in the Spring), my internship is challenging and teaching me so much, and I might be done with school on my birthday.  My little job is going well.  I have friends who are generous with their support and humor.  The dogs, the chickens, the fish are good.  [and typing all of this here is kind of counter-productive to my point, and makes me feel squirmy]

But I just can't get into this Facebook thankfulness thing.  Publishing good things every day seems like a slap in the face to people I know and love who are going through some life-altering times in their lives.  I help run a group for children who are staying in a homeless shelter.  My old Americorps team mate and her husband are trying to soak up every moment they have with their sweet infant son who was just diagnosed with a terminal disease.  My uncle and three cousins are adjusting to life without their wife and mother, my sweet aunt.  I know people who struggle with employment issues, major health issues, money issues, relationship issues...  It seems almost greedy for me to count my blessings publicly.

Not because I'm ungrateful for the embarrassment of riches I'm surrounded by.  Because clicking "share" after typing "I'm thankful for my son's health and energy and intellect, even after a very long evening" makes me feel like kind of an asshole.

So, friends, either affirm or challenge my thoughts, or help teach me how to be publicly grateful without feeling like a jerk.  What do you think?


Christina said...

Food for thought. I can be thankful in my head right? It doesn't have to be public. I guess sometimes, Facebook can be a form of bragging about how one's life is so wonderful and I can easily see the thankful posts falling into this category in certain situations. Maybe by reading those, it makes some people refocus on being thankful if they are having a bad day when they read it. Kind of a reminder to be thankful. But, your point of view is also something to think about. Not sure how I feel on this. I think I'll just be thankful in my head (as I was before). I guess putting it on a keyboard or on paper REALLY makes you focus on it. I can still do that privately though.. hmm.

Suze said...

I also have mixed feelings on the FB trend, probably because the notion of feeling and expressing gratitude is very important to me. Personally, there are two aspects of gratitude that are important: (1) Expressing my appreciation to those people responsible and (2) acknowledging thankfulness. FB can be a great vehicle for expressing appreciation to a broad group of people, but that's not really what this FB trend is about. As for the second objective, that is served just as well by saying "thank you" out loud while driving in the car, or walking in the woods, or writing it in my journal, or just taking a moment to appreciate all of the aspects of life. Finally, I think it is most significant to strive for a general spirit of thankfulness, more so than "counting my blessings," which for me sometimes starts to feel like a balance sheet and reminds me of things for which I am not grateful.

NotAppealing said...

I think if you were posting things like "I'm thankful for my house because it's four times larger than any of yours" then you may come off as an asshole.

However, if you're thankful for your home because it provides shelter for you and your family and pets, anyone who is a friend even in only the Facebook sense of the word or a remotely goodhearted person is not going to begrudge you.

Thankfulness for your family, or your health, or your president, or your dogs or chickens or the bracelet your long lost uncle from Ipanema sent you is recognizing that these are precious things, or moments, or people. That kind of thankfulness comes from humility and grace, not arrogance.

I lost my grandpa this year. How could I be offended by someone being thankful for their grandparents? By expressing their thankfulness, they are validating my feelings.