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Contributed by Tori Black
Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays: a day to gather with those we love and focus on all that we have to be grateful for. It also tends to feel a little squeezed though: the four-day break that separates the costumes and candy of Halloween and the bright lights, music and gift-giving of Christmas.
Following that famous harvest feast celebrated by the Pilgrims and their Wampanoag neighbors who helped them through their perilous first year, American colonies continued the observance for a couple hundred years until Abraham Lincoln, in the midst of the Civil War, called for a national day of thanksgiving to be held in November.
In his proclamation, Lincoln counseled the country to ask God to “commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife” and to “heal the wounds of the nation.” We continue to have wounds that need healing and gratitude has a profound impact on our mental, emotional and physical wellbeing.
In light of the misinformation that often surrounds this holiday, and in order to help you prepare for Thanksgiving this week, we’d like to give you some food for thought that can complement the food you will share with your family around your Thanksgiving table.
What Kids In Portland Public Schools Learn About Thanksgiving: ‘War Crimes’ And Racism – hopefully your children are not living in a school district that is intent on distorting the story of the Pilgrims. But whether they are or not, it’s good to be aware of the effort to characterize the settling of America as a “celebration of the genocide of the Indians by greedy capitalist Europeans.”
The Poet’s Favorite Season – do you love the autumn? Whether it is the relief from the heat of summer or an appreciation for leaves of gold, you are not alone in your enchantment. Poets also love the fall. Cozy up in a warm throw with a cup of spiced cider and enjoy this literary exploration of the season.
America’s Leaders Need to Hear Our Prayers, and We Need to Hear America’s History – as the authors of this article point out, “Our history can teach us to see one another more charitably, and keep us from allowing political disagreements to foster moral contempt for one another.” America has some real challenges, but it also has some real strengths. Thanksgiving is a time to acknowledge not only our individual blessings, but the blessing we share of living in our American Republic.
Molly’s Pilgrim – a children’s story about a little girl who has recently immigrated from Russia and is experiencing her first Thanksgiving in America. Molly finds it hard to fit in in her new country until she learns that “it takes all kinds of Pilgrims to make a Thanksgiving.” Also made into a short film, it won an Oscar in 1986 for Best Short Subject and is available on DVD.
The Thanksgiving holiday gives us an opportunity to focus on the good in our lives, our families and our communities. In her poem, Thy Great Bounty, Grace Noll Crowell, shares with us the true meaning of gratitude: “Because I have been given much, I too must give.” TW. T. Purkiser said, “Not what we say about our blessing, but how we use them, is the true measure of our thanksgiving.” As we celebrate and count our blessings this week, may we remember that true thanksgiving not only acknowledges the goodness in our lives but shares that goodness with others.