It sounds like we have not been very patriotic this holiday weekend.  I wasn’t either.  I did not participate in a stampede race for a discounted pair of socks.  I did not battle other customers to the death for a flat screen TV I don’t really need.  We spent our time being grateful for the things we already have, not wanting new things.  And we weren’t alone–economists are reporting that shopping was down this Black Friday.  Unfortunately, gratitude does nothing for the success of our country, only consumption does.

I’m sure the ravenous spending gods are displeased with us, but we’ll have a chance to make it up to Them this Christmas.  I know I will be doing penance at malls and gift stores–and I hate shopping with a passion, so it will be genuine penance.  Let’s do a better job this time, patriots.

A friend of mine once expressed surprise that we celebrate Thanksgiving, since we didn’t grow up in America.  (She was pleasantly surprised.)  Not only do we celebrate it, it’s a very big holiday for us, and the perfect immigrant holiday.  On our first Thanksgiving in the States, we were grateful just to have survived, considering how we arrived in this country with around $200 in our pockets and all that.

Well, times are hard, and we’re still grateful.  Yes, we’re part of the endangered middle class, battling every day not to go extinct, but we’re employed and we’re hanging in there.  We haven’t lost our home, unlike so many of our fellow Americans.  We could afford to have a home because we purchased it together as a family–family is a blessing, too.  Love is difficult, but I love and am loved in return.  Food prices have gone up, but our table will be full again this year and we will be able to indulge in the gluttony which is such an essential part of the holidays here.  Winter weather has arrived, but it’s an Oregon winter, which means the temperatures dip a bit below freezing and everyone freaks out about it.  Obama’s presidency hasn’t been perfect, but after seeing George W. Bush on Jay Leno’s show, I’m grateful for Obama, too.  George, please stick to painting!

My family and I have lived in much darker times than this, and we made it.  And even in Communist Poland, there were things to be thankful for, like being able to get bread at the store, or not going to prison.  I’m not sure that I’m a glass half full person, but I’m at least a glass half-and-half person.  So thank you, life, for our problems not being a lot worse.  And a Happy Thanksgiving to all.

There has been much doubt and questioning of President Obama’s religious faith, even though he has professed many times to be a believing Christian.  According to some critics, he doesn’t go to church often enough, doesn’t flaunt his religion enough, and has made the serious mistake of not using the phrase “born again”.

As far as his Christianity goes, I will have to take the President’s word for it.  But I have to say that I’m okay with having a man in the White House who is uncertain about his beliefs once in a while.  And as someone who also worships the Divine, I’m grateful to God for saving us from those who are too confident about their faith.  I fear the people who think they have a personal phone line to God, those who are so sure that God shares their opinions, they believe that anyone who disagrees is lost and has to be forcibly rescued.

So thanks be to God for protecting us from those who are too sure of themselves.  Those who are so sure of what a woman’s place in this world should be, they are willing to tell women to surrender to their nature.  Those who are so sure they know that life begins at conception, they would put their signature on a bill which would outlaw even certain forms of contraception.  Those who are so sure that love can only exist in one form, they would forbid any other kind of it.  Those who know that this world was meant to be a special gift from God just for them, so that they are free to bomb people in other countries, kill off animals and use up its resources as they wish.  And of course, those who are sure that the poor and sick and weak are guilty of some sin which caused them to be in that situation–not being confident enough, perhaps?–so they have permission from God to be completely merciless to them.

President Obama is by no means perfect, and I’m not always happy with his policies.  My own liberal views turn out to be flawed and incorrect sometimes.  And that is why I would rather have someone in office who is imperfect and realizes it, than a perfect believer who doesn’t realize the size of the beam he’s got in his own eye.