Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It’s not just the trappings of the day I look forward to. Sure the food, fun, and football are great but hey, that’s every weekend in the Fall for me. Thanksgiving is not about religion or national pride; it’s a day we can all share together. For some reason, this year, we seem to need this holiday more than ever. All over the world, people from different ideological, cultural, and religious perspectives seem to be on one big collision course. There is something about the feelings we share on Thanksgiving that gives us hope. Most of what we were taught in school about that first Thanksgiving in Plymouth is a myth. But the truth of what happened might be even more powerful than the myth or what happened later. My Internet research tells me that in truth the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Indians feelings toward each other in 1621, leading up to that feast were at best guarded, and that the peace was short-lived. But for three days, two groups of people that might as well have been from separate planets came together and discovered that what they had in common was more powerful than their differences. They feasted and they bonded, and they befriended each other. The friendship happened, it didn’t last long, but it happened. Maybe the real lesson we should take from 1621 is that when you put people together, no matter how different they seem, they will eventually realize that we all share the same basic need for food, shelter, love, and family. In a way, all of us in this country, despite our differences, somehow come together on Thanksgiving, just by the fact that we all celebrate the same ideals on the same day. Our Thanksgiving wasn’t the first Thanksgiving. Almost since the dawn of mankind, even though the world has been predominantly intolerant, people have marked special days to give thanks and share friendship. The Greeks, Romans, Chinese, Egyptians, and Jews all celebrated a version of Thanksgiving. Maybe it’s the “bringing of people together” that’s the answer. Maybe we need to find a way to make that feeling last longer than just one day.
For me, Thanksgiving is the day I gently kick myself for ever thinking that my life is somehow wanting just because I haven’t reached my ever-changing bar of achievement. It’s the day I’m reminded that the people sitting at my table on Thanksgiving are all I ever really need in this world. Thanksgiving is a day that we open our doors to our family and neighbors to share our good fortune. It’s a day when the siblings you fought with in your youth may still be a pain in the behind, but it sure feels great to see them and their families again. And your eccentric old aunt might speak a language you’ll never understand but it doesn’t feel quite like Thanksgiving without her. For me, it’s really the best day of the year.
All of us at ADR hope you enjoy the food, football, and fun this Thanksgiving. And while you’re at it have a great rest of the holiday season and a prosperous New Year.
R. Harvey Bravman