Friday, November 28, 2008


Yesterday, on Turkey Day, I was thinking about the meaning of Thanksgiving. It’s great to have a day of awareness of the bounty that we have, individually, as families, as a culture and a country. It think it’s important that we do some thanks-giving every day: choosing a minimum of three good things that happened that day and saying Thank You every night. There are some religions that have morning prayers that give thanks for the obvious things: thank You that I’m a woman, or thank You that I’m a man; thank You that I have another day to live and woke up this morning from my sleep.

My thoughts went back to the history of Thanksgiving, which has evolved into everyone eating a too-big meal with family and friends. This is a wonderful thing, and certainly reminds us of that first Thanksgiving, when the hungry Pilgrims were invited to a feast by the local, long-term inhabitants.

But it wasn’t just about a big meal back then.

The Native Americans, who knew this land and how to find and grow food on it watched these strange newcomers as they struggled, disconnected from the ways of the soil and air and water available here, trying to eke out a living on unfamiliar ground. They saw them try to bring their old habits into this land. These newcomers didn’t look like them or sound like them or dress like them or pray like them. The Native Americans, without trying to change these new people, offered them not only a table of food one day, but friendship, companionship, and guidance in how to live off their land. And the Native Americans didn’t try to convert these Europeans, or make them learn their language, or wear their clothes. They held out a hand, offered to share, offered friendship and assistance to the aliens who had left hardship and prosecution behind and sought freedom and opportunity on the shores of Turtle Island…America.

Maybe this is what we need to remember about Thanksgiving.