Today is a special day in my country, it is a day of giving thanks. While some may flame, criticize, and chastise the custom’s origins, the bottom line, for me, it is a time to pause and reflect about the things we value in our lives.
Days of giving thanks are celebrated in other countries as well, typically in the fall, more or less for similar reasons. But today is my country’s day to give thanks for what we have. The American holiday of Thanksgiving originated with the early European settlers to the Americas and, as legends go, the early Pilgrims pulled together with the Indians, to give thanks for a successful harvest, which they hoped would carry them through the harsh winter coming. As a little guy growing up, I remember the excitement of drawing turkeys by tracing our hand (the thumb was the head, the palm the body, and the other four fingers the tail feathers), coloring and cutting them out to decorate the class room, mom’s refrigerator, and pretty much anything which didn’t move. We we taught one of the reasons there was a Thanksgiving, was the native American Indians had watched these struggling new European settlers, took pity on them, and helped them adapt the the new world. They were instrumental in making the settlers fall harvest a successful one. I learned in school growing up, everyone, the settlers and the Indians, sat down at the same table and shared in the bounty of the harvest. True or not, hundreds of years later, we, today will sit and share with others, what we can. We will share with family. We will share with friends. We will share with strangers. We will think of our loved ones who could not be together with us, due to distance or obligations, and we will think about our loved ones who have passed from us. In a way, I feel Thanksgiving is about the past, the successes, things we have overcome, the fact we can travel to be with others, the fact we have food and drink to share.
Sitting here writing this in the early morning hours, as the rising sun lightens the eastern sky, I think, Thanksgiving is about hope too. The early settlers were hopeful they would survive the winter. Sometimes our lives may not always take us down the trail we think, but today, I am thankful. Today I think am hopeful too. I am hopeful for the good things in our country. I am hopeful for being able to spend time with separated family. I am hopeful, the folks I love stay healthy and in my life for a while longer. I am hopeful, there are new opportunities, friends, and relationships which enrich my life. I am hopeful.