Thanksgiving: A Time of Gathering
The first Thanksgiving was, as indeed are all harvest festivals, literally a time of gathering. Gathering corn, squash, shellfish and whatever else and bringing it back to the homestead. Then, naturally, the people wanted to feast on their harvested food. Eat it while it’s fresh and celebrate the gathering. How better to do this than to gather together for a community feast? And invite those who helped the villagers get through their first Winter, the Native People who taught the newcomers how to plant corn and squash, where to find the eels. We now have fruit and vegetables year round. Unless we have a garden ourselves, we are hardly aware of the seasons. Yet we continue to gather groceries and gather together to share the resulting meal.
Thanksgiving is people. First there is family. This may be the biggest holiday of the year for families to get together, to share a meal. Without added glitter, gift-giving, late night parties. Just family getting together, to talk, to share. Even watch television football. As long as they are doing it together. Hopefully with cell phones laid aside.
Then there are friends and neighbors. Do you know someone who will be alone? Invite them over to share the turkey and stuffing. Thanksgiving is diversity and respect for others. This poet often asked her family to invite one foreigner to the table, to let them experience an American tradition. Sharing with people from other places and traditions makes one more aware of one’s own traditions, the reason behind them, and of shared values.
Thanksgiving is tradition. While some people like to experiment, restaurants and homes alike tend to cook the same, traditional dishes: roast turkey with stuffing and gravy, mashed potatos, yams, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie. Each family has one or two traditional dishes, handed down from generation to generation: an onion dish, a special way to cook the yams, a favorite recipe for the beans or brussel sprouts. Then there are the local traditions. Many Bay Area families look forward to the first crab of the season on Thanksgiving Day. And happily, this year the crabs are available.
Thanksgiving is history, a holiday that remembers a critical period in our nation’s history. It is also a time for family to share history and values.
And Thanksgiving is, yes, a time to give thanks. A time to be grateful for all the above: food, family, friends. A time to share with others. A time to remember those who are lacking food, shelter, or family and friends. And a time to try to come together, to find shared values, to value our commonalities and our freedom to share differences in a respectful manner.
May we all participate in a true Thanksgiving this year, while we enjoy the turkey and all the trappings.
For it all!
A Simple Credo
To reflect more and to recite less,
To do more and to emote less,
To give more and to take less,
To smile more and to frown less,
Is to be the better for it,
A capable, affable human being.
An epigram a week:
Hope sustains, memory maintains.
When angry, count your blessings.
We all like affirmation and most need it.
Be mindful of the past, look forward to the future and savor the present.
Píccola has her say:
I need my humans
And they need me.
There is much to be said
For a family.
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