Thanksgiving: A Place in Today’s World?

Harvest

The fourth Thursday in November is a special day for many Americans. It’s the day we celebrate Thanksgiving, giving thanks for what we have, for the people in our lives, for the things we should be grateful for every day.

I grew up on the traditional narrative: pilgrims and Native Americans, or indigenous people (Indians back then in our ignorance) coming together to celebrate the harvest. Obviously, today, the narrative has been [rightfully] challenged and we all know better but, I believe there are still reasons that not only is Thanksgiving important, but also the narrative.

Obviously, we should be thankful every day for what we have. That goes without saying. But that doesn’t mean that a holiday devoted to gratefulness is not needed, or is useless. Whether you have a large family or small, or you spend the day with friends who are like family, a holiday is important like a ritual is important.

It provides a sacred space to draw attention to something important in our lives.

It binds us together with those we live with and those within our community, whether that community is national, local, or cultural.

Additionally, acknowledging the true story of the pilgrims and the native peoples, understanding the dynamics, and the history is something we should remember as well on this day. We can’t go back and change things. It was a travesty what happened to the natives of this land. But we can acknowledge it, we can learn from it, we can grow from it.

And we can ensure that it never happens again.

This lesson is one that is especially timely in the wake of the Syrian refugee crisis and our encroachment upon native peoples from around the world, a problem not in the forefront of the news.

So go ahead and enjoy your turkey, tofurkey, or like me, the sides. Be grateful every day, but bring special mindfulness to your life today. Go forth and do a little kindness for someone every day in gratitude for what you have.

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