Thanksgiving is a time for traditions.
Macys has a Thanksgiving parade. Dallas has the largest Turkey Trot 5K walk/run benefitting YMCA. Chicago has its annual Christmas Tree lighting ceremony. Kmart, Walmart and Sears have special Thanksgiving sales. Twitter has Tweetsgiving and Epic Thanks. This blog turns to thanks and gratitude.
As a child, we usually traveled to Mullens, WV for Thanksgiving. It literally was “over the river and through the woods” and round, and round, and round the mountainside we would go.
My grandmother always baked that special chocolate pie. My aunt made her famous baked pan stuffing. My uncle made his infamous fruit salad (that sometimes fermented in the process). My great grandmother made her shortening bread and passed the recipe on to the family.
My parents started their own tradition with a special Thanksgiving table cloth. Anyone that broke bread with my parents on Thanksgiving day signed and dated that cloth. It has become an annual ritual to read through the list of names and discuss those that feasted with us in the past. It’s like a walk through the pages of our holiday history and heritage. Some people we remember in reverent silence as they have since passed. Some names cause us to smile and laugh. Others we wonder where they are. Some were strangers that became family, even if just for a day. All were welcomed with open hand and warm hugs.
America’s Complex Thanksgiving Day
Like other holidays, America’s Thanksgiving Day has become a complex, highly charged moment, when family, food, football, shopping, year-end job worries, alcohol and loneliness all collide.
The sweetness of possibility meets the sourness of the unresolved, a new year doesn’t quite escape yesteryears, and the hope of “over the river and through the woods” meets the reality of confusing burdens like food to prepare, family squabbles to endure, and the aches and yearnings that any holiday inspires.
Children float free of such ambiguities. I suspect the rest of us would pay dearly for a return to innocence, when food just appeared and the snarling of extended family didn’t penetrate our self-absorption.
As it is, I think we hang in a suspended state, not exactly innocent ourselves, giving as good as we get, and yet wishing for the release of unambiguous love, mutual affection that requires no gritting of teeth, hugs and smiles and laughter that aren’t clouded by anything we bring to the moment, but simply shared as a feast.
A Thanksgiving Wish For You And Yours
So it is at our Thanksgiving tables. In the midst of our collisions, mercy extends a hand. Even as we ache for newness and yet drift into an oldness we can’t seem to escape, the Universe brings food to our table that we cannot bring ourselves, a meal of extravagant love.
As this year’s Thanksgiving Day arrives, I don’t pray for a magical vanishing of every ambiguity. I just pray that at our table – and at whatever table this year sets for you — we will see the mercy among us and know that we are loved.
Please join us in this global celebration of epic thanks and gratefulness. Epic Thanks seeks to change the world through the power of gratitude. It is about harnessing social media for good. During the past two years, this global event built two classrooms and a library in Arusha, Tanzania. Visit Epic Thanks site to learn more, and to bring your grateful heart to the party by sharing your gratitude, and giving in honor of that for which you’re most thankful. This is the part of a series for Epic Thanks: Tweetsgiving 2010.