I love Thanksgiving. Hands down, it is my favorite holiday.
My happiness doesn’t come from the Thanksgiving Day meal. Years ago, while working as a cook, I had to dress twenty large birds at a time. Ever since, I smell raw turkey whenever I look at a plate of cooked poultry. I don’t have a passion for football, and would rather undergo a root canal then shop on Black Friday. The reason I like Thanksgiving is because I like the word. Especially if you say it really slowly and emphasize each syllable. Thanks-giv-ing. When you pronounce it like that, Thanksgiving becomes less of a noun and more of the verb I believe it was intended to be.
Because really, this is a holiday that is rooted in Thanks Giving. The Pilgrims held a late autumn feast after enduring their first harsh year in a new land. They invited some of the neighboring Native Americans who had been instrumental in their survival. It was a great time of celebration and of gratitude.
When my family gathers around the Thanksgiving table, we too mark our appreciation of the past year. One by one, we note all the people who graced our lives, and list all the ways we have been blessed. My children tease me gently when I shed tears of gratitude, but I can’t help my emotions. After listing my Thanks Giving, my heart nearly bursts with plenty.
It is such a nice tradition, this ritual of Thanks Giving, that I wish Thanksgiving came around more than once a year. As we all know, it is easy to forget to give thanks. To overlook the many blessings we receive. Just as the Pilgrims and the new settlers who followed them did. They forgot that the Native Americans helped them flourish that first year, and in forgetting, lost sight of how to treat other human beings with respect. The result is a painful history of oppression.
I believe that when we as individuals forget this important act of Thanks Giving, we too become oppressors. Our lack of gratitude might not undermine a whole race, but it is just as serious in my mind. When we forget to be thankful, we oppress the light. The light within and the light that is available to us. Without gratitude, our hearts shrink and we forget that we are our blessings. By giving thanks, we recall who we want to be. We remember to shine brightly.
So I have decided that in the year to come, my family will begin a new tradition and have many Thanks Giving celebrations. Whenever I feel my light dimming or see that my children and husband need some brightening up, I’m going to call a Thanks Giving holiday. We’ll share a special meal and take turns offering a remembrance of gratitude. The only caveat–turkey will not be served.