There’s a tendency in America today to expect “thankfulness” and “gratitude” be expressed on certain days or in predictable ways. One of those days is, of course, Thanksgiving Day. But what has become expected is not the traditional notion of thanks to God for deliverance from European religious persecution – and the more immediate thanks for deliverance from starvation by the help and generosity of the native Americans who shared their food and table with the Puritan colonists. Whatever one might think of the actions or inactions of those colonists after the first Thanksgiving, it should not be forgotten that two very different groups of people are forever linked in a moment showing the best of humanity.
Yet, today, many Americans won’t even call the day “Thanksgiving” – they call it “Friendsgiving” if they mention it at all. People are not black and white – and, unlike their clothing, neither were America’s Puritan ancestors. They brought both good and bad with them – as humans are wont to do – and they were people of their time. But in our rush to judge all of history through a 21st-century prism, we have found them wanting and thus have lost the true meaning of the story of that first fateful gathering. That at that time and in that place a diverse group of human beings came together out of concern and compassion for life. Shouldn’t that be something we can all agree is worth remembering and even celebrating (let alone emulating) for at least one day? There is benefit in remembering that we were once and will always be human beings who are often in need of help and compassion from our fellow humans – and that valuing all life is what all of us should continue to do and inspire in others of this world who may not. That should be the real lesson of that first Thanksgiving – regardless of the historical accuracy of the story.
So at this time of year on Thanksgiving Day (and every day, really) I am thankful and grateful that compassion still exists in this world and that I come from a place that values life and celebrates such human compassion. I am also thankful and grateful for family and friends – who we all should feel free to invite over for Thanksgiving dinner – or for dinner any other day of the year! We hope you have a great Thanksgiving Day -- or just a great day if you're not American :) -- and that you have lots and lots to be thankful for!!!