I love Thanksgiving for many reasons, not the least of which is that it signals the beginning of Christmas season, and I LOVE CHRISTMAS!! The main reason I enjoy Thanksgiving, however, has to do with the fact that it has nothing to do with religion and, at the same time, is at the core of my Christian faith.
On this one day of the year in the United States, everyone from every corner of the country is invited to lay down their differences, gather with whatever family they can get to, and reflect on what they’ve got to be thankful for.
Now, there can be a downside to all of this, I know. Maybe you don’t like your family. Maybe you don’t like football. Maybe you have to work (and if you do, that sucks, and I’m sorry!). Here’s the thing I love about it, though: There is no “right way” to be thankful; you just are. You’re either thankful or you’re not. If you’re a Muslim, you can be thankful. If you’re Jewish, you can be thankful. If you’re an Atheist, you can be thankful. If you’re a Secular Humanist, you can be thankful. If you’re a Christian, you can be thankful. And, we can all get together and be thankful around the same table.
I think that’s one of the reasons Jesus and many other great religious figures describe the Kingdom of God by using feast metaphors. Gathering together around a table for a feast is something that’s been done around the globe for centuries. Eating together in community brings us closer together. We all need food to sustain us, and sharing a meal is a beautiful way to demonstrate inclusiveness. When we gather together in an attitude of thankfulness, it changes us. We recognize that we need each other. We recognize that it is better to be together than alone.
I really don’t care what religion you align yourself with or even if you want nothing to do with religion whatsoever. What I wish for you on this day, this Thanksgiving Day, is the experience of joy, peace, and love that comes from living with a thankful heart.
If you find yourself flustered with the burden of trying to make everything perfect, try taking a page from Peppermint Patty’s book. In the end, it doesn’t matter if you’ve got the perfect turkey done with all of the trimmings or if you pop a bunch of popcorn and put out a bowel-full of pretzel sticks and jellybeans. What matters is who you’re with (whether in the flesh or in spirit) and what you mean to each other.
On this day, when we are all invited to the table of Thanksgiving, it is my prayer that you’ll be able to find the time to look around you and see, in the faces you encounter, more reasons to be thankful than you can name.
Peace to you all, and Happy Thanksgiving!