Bitter Thanks

This Thanksgiving, I will keep bitter thoughts from tagging along with my genuine thanks.

All too often during


, my husband and I crack when arguing over whose house to stuff our stomachs in. Choosing a family to celebrate Thanksgiving with is not an argument over whose gravy has the least lumps, whose turkey is most tender, and which potatoes - whipped or mashed - are the best. It becomes a tit for tat battle that drags out a record of who went where, when, and why. We become convinced that the scales must be perfectly balanced for us to be happy.

Now why, as a


, would I want to bring myself into this mess of a holiday? I am not religiously motivated to celebrate it. What motivates me and many other Muslims to celebrate is to give thanks. All religions are intended to create selfless, thankful people. Thanksgiving can rekindle the selfless nature in us that, ironically, likes to selfishly take vacations during the holiday season, leaving us as self-centered people suffering from too much Turkey-induced tryptophan.

As a Muslim who celebrates Thanksgiving every year, I understand the dangers of thank you's that hide selfish motivations. Islam teaches me that my thank-you's to God are not favors to Him. When saying thanks to God, I cannot secretly be saying, "Hey, I am thanking You, so give me more to be thankful for." If I do that, I negate my thanks.


Last Thanksgiving, I caught myself trying to tag onto my prayers a "Thank you for Thanksgiving with my family this year, BUT I am going to miss them when I switch next year and celebrate it with my husband's family." Now, I love my husband's family and am close to all its members. I always enjoy celebrating holidays with them and have no grievances. But I have a soft spot for my family's way of carving a robust bird, my family's inside jokes, and my family's favorite way to moan about stuffed bellies as we unbuckle belts and spread out on the sofas and floor.

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