Even more than that, I love what Thanksgiving represents for me. First, the pilgrims, people just like the rest of us, who were trying to survive in a new land. I can imagine their fears and frustrations with the New World, which was so foreign to them. Trying to eke a living from the unforgiving land must have seemed an impossible task, and facing unknown enemies made the challenge nearly insurmountable. So, I first acknowledge and am thankful for all of us, who are working against all odds to raise our families, to put food on the table and to survive in a world that seems hostile at times. I am thankful for a job I love, and people who support and encourage me every day. I am so blessed to make a living doing something I love.
Another thing I love about Thanksgiving is family. My childhood memories of Thanksgiving include lots of cousins, aunts and uncles who gathered together to gossip, argue and eat too much. By the end of Thanksgiving weekend, the cousins had pummeled each other until they established the proper pecking order. Fortunately, as the eldest cousin, I was typically on the top of the heap, bleeding slightly in the snow. I won’t lie. Another vivid memory is of one or more uncles passed out in the living room, in front of the television, watching a blurry game of football. Back in the day, we didn’t have a hundred cable channels. We had rabbit ears with aluminum foil, and college football, and lots of beer, wine and other beverages for adult consumption only. By the end of the weekend, some aunts and uncles were no longer on speaking terms. Once again, I think they were establishing their pecking order, in a different manner than the cousins. Personally, I believe the fisticuffs was a more direct way to determine honor than arguing.
Now days, I am thankful for family. Not just for my eight children, who are flung far and wide across the country, but for my friends and their families, who so warmly welcome us to participate in their lives. Spending time with family is one of my treasured holiday traditions, and though I likely won’t be passed out in front of the T.V., you can bet that the younger kids and I will be watching more than our share of holiday movies. I will start with “A Wonderful Life”, which brings tears to my eyes every time I realize how blessed I really am.
One of my favorite things about Thanksgiving is that we can eat what we want, usually guilt free. One of the hallmarks of my life has been my tremendous capacity to carry around guilt. Not all of it is deserved, but I burden myself none-the-less. I have a lot of food related guilt, about what I should or should not be eating, whether something is on my diet, whether something will make me fat. You know the routine. I’m sure many of you are in the same food-deprivation mindset. But during Thanksgiving, I allow myself to enjoy culinary pleasures without the nagging voice telling me I shouldn’t. I am so thankful for the bounty and variety of food available to us in this country. Even in the middle of Wyoming, in the middle of winter (technically in the middle of fall), we have access to fresh fruits and vegetables, meat and bread to an extent unimagined in other countries. We are so blessed to live here and now.
Finally, Thanksgiving is a time to relax and be grateful and that is one of my favorite things. I like having a day to reflect on the many blessings in my life. I appreciate an entire day dedicated to giving thanks.
Meister Eckhart, a German theologian, philosopher and mystic said, “If the only prayer you said was thank you, that would be enough.”
I try to live my life remembering those simple words. Thank you. I am grateful for a town that I can call home, for the kindness of friends and strangers, and for the love of the people around me.
Life is beautiful and Thanksgiving provides us an opportunity to pause just a moment, look around and utter the simple prayer, “Thank you”.