Thanksgiving may seem like a uniquely American holiday, however, it transcends nationalities and cultural groups. Nearly all cultures have some type of harvest celebration that brings people together to break bread and give thanks to a good harvest, peace, and fellowship. Even our first Thanksgiving here in America involved the coming together of two very different peoples and cultures.
In a time when so much seems to divide us, good food can be the great equalizer - helping us set aside our differences as we enjoy a meal and the company of others.
The real meaning of thanksgiving, however, is lost if we focus only on ourselves. Giving thanks is not only about recognizing how fortunate we are, it is also about recognizing those less fortunate than us. When we do this, it gives us the perspective we need to hopefully, call us to action. We can and should be thinking about what we can do to better our local and global communities so that others are able to join in our celebration of thanksgiving.
How can we do this? We can start by being more patient, having empathy, and by accepting that we aren’t always right about everything all the time. We can invite a neighbor, a classmate, a student, an old friend, or even a stranger to join us for a thanksgiving meal (or any meal for that matter) so that he or she isn’t alone.
We can volunteer our time at local charities before, during, and after the holiday season. We can engage in random acts of kindness because goodwill is contagious. We can give our undivided attention by unplugging technology and social media for a few hours and focusing instead, on others around us.