As the holiday approaches this week, our thoughts turn to how much we have to be thankful for. But is Thanksgiving more than that? Perhaps it deserves more than a cursory, reflective thank you. Thanksgiving has deep roots, involves multiple generations, all who endured some difficult times and made sacrifices beyond our comprehension today.
If you pick it apart, Thanksgiving is about people. We gather as a group to share a meal. The meal has its own set of foods and rituals; those that are most memorable in defining the essence of Thanksgiving to us. Let us share ours.
First off, the turkey. It is the foundation of the Thanksgiving meal. To us it is like the moms who more often than not own the ritual of Thanksgiving. The moms are the foundation. They are the supporter of the family. Like the turkey they are in it for the long haul. The turkey takes the longest to prepare and cook. And moms know about long term commitment. They are at the core of a flourishing family. Moms are magic. Kind of like the taste of a slow cooked turkey.
If the moms are the turkey then dads are the gravy. They make the turkey better – and you always want to pour it on other things to make them better, too. You can’t get enough gravy. It’s like the way we think of our grandfathers, wishing we could get just one more story or one more question answered from them. We couldn’t get enough of them.
And then there is the wine. The wine is the laughter that we share at Thanksgiving. It adds the sparkle… the happiness in seeing each other. There are some at the table who exude the ‘seize the day’ attitude, the love of laughter and the desire to touch every person on this most thankful of days. They create the memories, the love of story and the creation of new ones for the generation still learning the rituals. They make the holiday richer for all.
Then there are the seasonal traditions; the turnip, the cranberry sauce, the stuffing. These are all reminders of days gone by. We rarely, if ever, eat them other than on Thanksgiving. It’s our way of acknowledging those who came before us. They had passion for life and for future generations and we share these foods as a sign that they are not forgotten.
Oh, and the pies – they are meticulously crafted to prolong the gathering and keep the experience magical. At this point everyone certainly doesn’t need more food! But the ritual of savoring a piece of pie (or two) allows for time to linger, continuing the story, and strengthening relationships.
Thanksgiving comes in many varieties, with different foods, people and rituals. But at their core all Thanksgivings are our time to give thanks – for family, for friends, for strangers who are friends we haven’t fully met yet. How great it is to have a day dedicated just to being thankful.