Six point five percent doesn’t sound so bad unless you’re one of the one million, two-hundred thousand Americans who lost their jobs in the first ten months of 2008. For many of them, today will bring a smaller turkey, turkey at a soup kitchen or no turkey at all. Downshifting is “un-American.” The thought of less strikes at the angry core of “manhood:”

Molly Brown: Hey, uh, who thought of the name Titanic? Was it you, Bruce?
Ismay: Yes, actually. I wanted to convey sheer size, and size means stability, luxury, and above all, strength.
Rose: Do you know of Dr. Freud, Mr. Ismay? His ideas about the male preoccupation with size might be of particular interest to you.

A smaller bird will be ego crushing to many, but today we’ll waste enough food to feed millions of less fortunate. Our preoccupation with size explains the Hummer and the “Code Blue” status of General Motors. Our capitalist obsession with growth and ever-increasing profit is collapsing our economy and our 401K’s are at the bottom of the rubble.

The mother of my children had a saying that I recall after an intense bout of marital mayhem: “Where do we grow from here?” After recently blogging, “we need to devise a system that moves us back to more local, sustainable economies,” I’ve discovered the concept of the “steady-state economy.” I have much more study to do on it, and Thanksgiving isn’t the day to dwell on it. I will say the growth we need is inward…

Recently I suggested to Megan and Kyle this year’s Christmas would be less “material” than previous years. I asked them to think about what they really want and that I’d “try” to fulfill that request, but that there would not be much beyond that. I explained that the economy was bad and I wanted to conserve our money in case things got worse. I think the imprecision of my reasoning scared Kyle who blurted out, “This is going to be the worst Christmas ever!” My ghosts of Christmas past include the first waking in a place without them, Megan not being home one year, and Kyle struggling with walking last. After putting things in some context, my boy was fine. I think he is starting to understand it’s just stuff and our happiness has very little to do with it.

Happy Thanksgiving.

“Nations are possessed with an insane ambition to perpetuate the memory of themselves by the amount of hammered stone they leave … One piece of good sense is more memorable than a monument as high as the moon.”

– Walden by Henry David Thoreau