Will You Be Thankful If the SHTF?

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Editors Note: This post as well as a few others have been delayed because of a server migration effort here at the Prepper Journal and the car trip mentioned below. I hope to get back on schedule finally and return to our daily posts, but it might be a little bumpy for a couple of days. Thanks for sticking in there with us.


I returned from our Thanksgiving trip Sunday amid millions of other people on the same highways it seems. Funny how bumper to bumper traffic can give you time to think. We had spent several days with my family a few states away and were beginning our trek home on Sunday. The Sunday after Thanksgiving… A day that many years ago I swore I would never drive on again for anything more than the few miles to church and maybe the local Mexican restaurant that my family has financed over the years. I swear they were able to get new color menus with glossy photos of the food and new glasses because of our frequent patronage. No, the Sunday after Thanksgiving is reserved for the truly masochistic who love nothing better than to drive along at 65 miles an hour for two miles and then creep along at 2 miles an hour for five more miles and repeat this process over and over again. We did this for a good part of roughly 400 miles.

The Sunday after Thanksgiving is the worst day in the history of worst days for driving home after a holiday. If you don’t believe me, you can look it up. I am sure Guinness has a mention of this day somewhere, but that isn’t what this post is about. Driving home my wife brought up the subject of Thanksgiving after the SHTF. What would your traditional Thanksgiving look like in a post-apocalyptic world? What would you do? Would you give thanks? Would you be able to think beyond the food, the people around the table and reflect on your life and the blessings you have?

Why are we giving thanks in the first place?

I know many of you wonder why we celebrate Thanksgiving in the first place. Is this just some old holiday we can thank the pilgrims for? Because of some feast with the Indians we get a couple of days off in November unless you work for any of the many retailers who were open on Thanksgiving this year. For the majority of us, this day has become one in which we gather with family and friends and eat until the buttons pop on our pants. The meals vary by tradition and region and the activities may or may not involve a good bit of drinking and watching football, but the gist of this holiday is the same. People from everywhere travel to see family, pig out and have a good time. At least that is what we say is supposed to happen on the surface.

For a lot of people, the holidays in general are a stressful time. There is the pressure of the Christmas season (yes, I said Christmas) with gifts and more things to do than any other time of year it seems. Thanksgiving seems to be the holiday that more people travel on though and that brings all of that stress into your living room, sometimes with disastrous results. As family and friends get together, all too often nerves are frazzled, old wounds are poked and the day that we are supposed to gather and reflect on our blessings is turned into a steel cage match. Often we can wonder why we do this to ourselves year after year.

What will you do when you have nothing to be thankful for?

We in the United States are relatively blessed with more than a normal person in some countries could dream for. Even in the poorest neighborhoods in America, there is a Satellite dish attached to every house. Everyone has at least one cell phone and food on the table. Are there people out on their luck? Of course, but they are a tiny fraction of our nation’s people. Most of us have a roof over our heads, food on our tables and a car we can drive all over town. What is there to not be thankful for?

If it were all taken away from you and you had nothing but a can of beans; what would you do on Thanksgiving? Would you still gather with your family and friends? Would you gather your beans, their rice and someone’s ramen noodles together to make a feast? Would you break out your best plastic forks and toast each other with your plastic water bottles? Would you skip the day entirely and say that there is nothing to be thankful for so why bother?

Thanksgiving like several holidays actually has become something it wasn’t meant to. At the very least, we don’t appreciate the original intent of this day in my opinion. I know I don’t  at times or if I do, it is not as somber as it should be. We have turned this day into primarily a day about the meal, sports and being off work or school. We appreciate the benefits we can get physically, but I think there is an emotional and maybe spiritual need that we should consider also.

Thanksgiving should be a day where each of us reflects on our blessings. In the days of the pilgrims, the blessings were a harvest that would feed them through the rest of the winter. It was about provision and providence. Now, we seem to take those for granted. What if our version of provision and providence were different? What if there were no 19 pound turkey cooked to perfection? What if you had no selection of pies, dishes of wonderful food, a big screen TV with the game on, a warm fire and the company of family and friends? Would you still reflect on your blessings or would you cuss about what you didn’t have?

I am not perfect. In a perfect world though we would still be able to be thankful for the very most basic blessing of life. If I had nothing to eat even on Thanksgiving Day, would I be able to take a moment and be thankful I am alive? Would it change this holiday for you if that were your situation? Would you be able to love everyone in your family regardless of the crazy things they do that annoy you? Would you be able to smile if you had a rip in your best pants, or no pants? No job, or home or friends? Would you be thankful that you had nothing to offer except your gratitude?

Life has a way of teaching us humility and in my experience, it is often a bittersweet lesson we have to learn and it is just a time like this that teaches us. For people stubborn like me, you might have to lose everything to be thankful for what you have. That is a lesson I don’t want to have to live out, but I will try to remember my own words if I am in a place like that one day. We all could be.

So the drive home was awful, but the moments I got to share with my family more than overshadow a little numbness in my posterior that is slowly fading.  The hours sitting in traffic could never erase the seconds I got to hold my family in my arms. I am truly blessed with too many things to mention and I hope I can remember that even if I wake up one day and it is all gone.

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