I always rely on Memory Alpha, but this post more than most so I wanted to especially acknowledge how grateful I am for it.
Star Trek exists in a post-American, mostly post-religious world. Yet somehow they still have a Thanksgiving. I know Thanksgiving isn’t just an American holiday, but just like American Thanksgiving, the Star Trek thanksgiving is ALL about the food. It’s actually one of the most often mentioned holidays in Star Trek. In the 22nd century, thanksgiving was still celebrated with a Turkey dinner (ENT: “Observer Effect”). The crew of the original Enterprise celebrated Thanksgiving during a first season episode. Because this was before replicators, the crew was going to settle for Turkey-shaped meatloaf until the man-god of the week (“Charlie X” in this case) performed the miracle of producing real turkey. As late as DS9, it was not unusual to have a Thanksgiving dinner with vegetables and stuffing (“Blaze of Glory”). Ok, so no turkey mentioned in this last one, but we know that by that point humans were largely vegetarian (TNG: “Lonely Among Us“) . Still, the “stuffing” provides a pretty clear indication that Sisko’s meal is a direct descendant of our own. Thanksgiving has remained all about the food.
Bajor had its own “Gratitude Festival,” an annual event that seemed to have less eating and more burning things like leaves and symbolic scrolls. I could get behind a holiday that was all about setting things on fire.
Neelix’s species, the Talaxians, had a multi-day festival called Prixin that celebrated family and like our thanksgiving focused on sharing a delicious meal. The traditional salutation would not be the worst way to open a Thanksgiving meal: “We do not stand alone. We are in the arms of family: [list family members]. We gather this day to extol the warmth and joy of those unshakable bonds. Without them we could not call ourselves complete. On this day we are thankful to be together. We do not stand alone.” (VOY: “Mortal Coil”) I don’t know about you, but I find that kind of touching.
That Voyager episode happens to be one of my favorites and would definitely be my choice for “best thanksgiving episode.” It’s an episode that deals with a crisis of faith and how to be grateful for what you have while still acknowledging what you have lost. It’s about finding meaning in the people around you and it kind of makes me tear up. Which is a feat since I usually can’t stand Neelix.
Star Trek has meant a lot to me in my life. It was my first exposure to the idea that an ethical system could be based off of something other than religious dictates. It taught me that living a moral life meant continually questioning your own assumptions and continually trying to broaden your own personal sphere of who you sympathize with. It taught me that diversity brought strength and also that good intentions can go very wrong. It also gave me a frame of reference and a world full of people that I had something in common with. (I know this is basically what Fry said about it in Futurama. It’s still true!)
So, on this holy day of feasting, tell me why you are thankful for Star Trek. Maybe it’s the lessons it taught you. Maybe it reminds you of a family member that shared it with you and you bonded over it. Or maybe it’s just an escape. All reasons are valid! Or what episode makes for perfect Thanksgiving viewing? Maybe it’s TNG’s “Family” or a satisfying adventure like “All Good Things.”
And now, a random image from Memory Alpha
The dedication plaque of the USS Enterprise-E.