Why do we have a special day for giving thanks, but not a special day for complaining?
This is actually not a bad idea. In fact, I think I’d recommend abolishing Thanksgiving and doing the complaining thing instead. There are a couple of reasons for this.
First, as an occasion of extended family get-togethers, holidays like Thanksgiving tend to bring together people who don’t choose to get together at other times. These are, often, people they can barely tolerate but happen to be related to. Surely it’s unrealistic to expect them to be grateful on such an occasion. It’s likely they will argue and complain anyway; why not just make that the point of the gathering?
Second, I’ve noticed that when you give people an occasion to do something, they think it removes from them the obligation to do it at other times. You honor veterans on Veteran’s Day, then you don’t have to think about them the rest of the time. You’re thankful on Thanksgiving, so you forget that it’s a good idea to reflect on how good you’ve got it for all the rest of the year. You give people presents on their birthdays and Christmas, so when you discover something that would be a nice gift for Tyler, do you get it and give it to him right away? No, you wait until an appropriate day — if you remember what it was by then! If you had given Tyler his present right away, you might’ve seen two other things he would like in the meantime.
Moreover, complainers are annoying. When people whine, I’d like to be able to remind them that it’s the wrong day for that. We should choose a day that’s likely to have nice weather, because a sunny day makes complaints easier to endure. Let’s say the 3rd Sunday in May; I dislike holidays that delay my Netflix, so we should choose one that wouldn’t have mail delivery anyway. The whole family could get together, eat themselves silly (both because that’s what people do when they gather, and because if they’re drowsy they might fight with less energy). Then we sit everyone in a circle and let them unburden themselves of anything they’ve been wanting to complain about. Friends can call each other up to bitch. Those so inclined, can drink enough to forget what people said to them. And we’re good for another year.