Today, it is Thanksgiving in the United States.
Thanksgiving is a beloved family tradition that invites everyone in the country to join in, regardless of the usual divisions of wealth, faith, race, status, or country of origin. Over time, Thanksgiving has evolved to belong to every resident of the States who wants to partake in the feast. It is a time of harvest, bounty and gratitude. Further north, Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving on the second Monday in October due to the shorter growing season and earlier harvest.
From soup kitchens to fine restaurants, warm kitchens everywhere hum with delicious anticipation. Families have favorite regional recipes and rituals proudly passed on to the next generations, while many from estranged homes create their traditions with trusted friends. But sadly, it can also be a time of loneliness when there is little to be grateful for.
Understandably, Indigenous peoples consider the original harvest feast from their unique perspective. Historical records indeed affirm that the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag tribe shared an autumn feast celebrating the colonists’ first successful harvest in 1621 at the Plymouth Plantation in what is now Massachusetts. However, their narrative refers also to the harsh reality of Europeans landing on their shores and the subsequent brutal colonization.
If you can and are willing, welcome this opportunity to practice gratitude and kindness. It feels so good! Like teaching a muscle to stretch, it gets easier, and the sense of expansiveness that follows is the essence of generosity. You will find that there is more rather than less, more bounty, more ease, more love, more curiosity, more kindness, more possibilities….fill in the blank.
On Thanksgiving Day, when people gather to share a feast, does it really matter who is right or who has the last word? How about a truce?
So Happy Thanksgiving to all!
Bring something delicious to the feast, be kind to your relatives, be open-minded and good-hearted, listen well, suspend judgment, avoid the old stories, make no assumptions, and share a laugh. Walk away if you need to; no harm in that!
Ram Dass, a wise teacher, once said:
So, you think you have reached enlightenment? Then, go spend a few days with your family.
I will tell you what I am grateful for this November 2022; I am thankful for the gift of sight, and I wish to thank my red, tired and puffy eyes. Weary eyes that won’t look away at the world’s saddest state and the egregious abuses of power everywhere. Weary eyes that witness the millions fighting injustice and oppression as best they can. To them, I give thanks.
And when I look away with those same red, tired, puffy eyes, Oh Joy! I see a bird circling in the late autumn sky. And if I can no longer tell if it is a raven or a crow, it doesn’t matter. I see a bird in flight, and my heart opens, freer and more generous. For that, I give thanks.
Photo credit goes to Diliara Garifullina at https://unsplash.com/@dilja96.