Thanksgiving evokes a lot of mixed feelings on my part. While Thanksgiving type holidays are celebrated in many cultures, given that I am an American, our Thanksgiving holiday is entwined with the near genocide of the native peoples, an act that is tragically still very relevant, because it has not stopped. And as a Secular Humanist, it’s hard to find books on Thanksgiving without religious overtones.
When I went to the library today I found Who Put the Cookies in the Cookie Jar, a book that explores the question of all of the effort that goes into making the cookie, from baking it, to farming the materials needed to make it, to the people who load the materials in trucks and deliver them to grocery stories, to the people who stock the shelves themselves.
Considering one of my pet peeves is believers thanking god for things like food, medical recoveries, winning awards, etc, because I see it as stiffing the people who actually made the effort (the farmers who grew our food, the doctors who trained hard, the janitors who kept the hospitals free of staph, or just the effort we ourselves put into our accomplishments), I like how the book acknowledges all of the different people whose hard work goes into making one cookie. I also like how it confronts us with the fact that everyone’s job is important. We shouldn’t look down on people stocking shelves or harvesting sugar cane because their labor benefits us all.
That said, this book certainly won’t only appeal to atheists. In fact, the dedication was to Thich Nhat Hanh, the Zen master whose teachings inspired the book.
This book appeals to what Thanksgiving ought to be about, not Pilgrims and Indians, but acknowledging what we have and the people who have put in the effort for creating it and helping us.