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An attitude of gratitude
November 22, 2012 - Rick Chatenever
Black Thursday- whose idea was that?
Although it's now synonymous with the tryptophan stupor brought on by surreal, helium-filled visions in the morning followed by too much football and turkey in the afternoon, Thanksgiving would, in a more perfect world, be our greatest national holiday.
Not for turkeys, of course, or the original inhabitants of the land who probably sensed there goes the neighborhood with the first sight of the Mayflower's sails on the horizon. But from the touch-and-go circumstances of that initial 1621 feast in Plymouth, the message of this nondenominational, yet still holy day, is profound:
Life is challenging. We have this meal. We are grateful.
Although he walked the earth on the other side of the planet a thousand years before that first Thanksgiving, I nominate Chinese philosopher Lao Tsu to be the patron saint of the holiday.
He's the one who said, "He who knows that enough is enough will always have enough."
Chances are if you're reading these words, you've got enough. If you're reading them on Maui, probably more than enough.
Cliches notwithstanding, we've got so much to be thankful for.
Our collective sanity, for one thing. Here we've just come through this obscenely expensive election that assaulted us for months with the latest, state-of-the-art ways of making us wonder if we were going crazy. Although the candidates were the ones in the crosshairs for these acts of character assassination, the rest of us were collateral damage in the barrage of political flimflam intended to confuse us so thoroughly that those candidates could have their way with us.
But we survived, gave it our best shot and despite desires by a certain segment of the population to secede, we have helped perpetrate this most ingenious union that the Pilgrims celebrated, even if they couldn't have imagined what it would become, for four more years.
Halfway between the Pilgrims and us, it fell to enlightened visionary Abraham Lincoln to save the union so we could be enjoying our turkey a century and a half later.
Daniel Day-Lewis' amazing channeling of "Lincoln" has hit movie screens and is also on the schedule for the Maui Film Festival's FirstLight, resuming Friday and continuing intermittently through the holidays in Castle Theater at the MACC.
FirstLight is one of those uniquely Maui things to be grateful for.
It's not just for the premieres that have given us advance looks at future best-picture Oscar winners like "The Artist" or "The King's Speech" before nominations were even announced. It's also for creating synergy by showcasing each year's best cinema - performances and artistic achievements as well as the overall winners.
By programming the films in relation to one another, Maui Film Festival director Barry Rivers makes them more than the sum of their parts. FirstLight reminds us that movies don't have to be about fighting aliens. Instead, they represent the best way we can imagine to tell our stories - discovering, exploring and sometimes celebrating this glorious mess known as being human.
Highlights of the upcoming schedule include the lavish "Anna Karenina" starring Keira Knightley at 7:30 p.m. Friday; and Sir Anthony Hopkins filling the silhouette of one of the screen's greatest masters in "Hitchcock" at 7:30 p.m. Saturday. Keep watching Maui Scene or visit www.mauifilmfestival.com for more details on FirstLight, which returns in earnest Dec. 14.
So, despite efforts to defile this day with doorbuster specials, premature Christmas gifts and the belief that America's economy can't survive a day without shopping, today might be a good time to take a holiday from the relentless tapeworm of desire that tells us we always have to have more.
Instead, it's a fine time to remember to cherish family, friends and the stories that unite us.
The bargains will still be there waiting, first thing tomorrow.
Today there are things more deserving of our thanks.
* Contact Rick Chatenever at email@example.com.
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