Thursday marks Thanksgiving Day here in the U.S.., Canada having celebrated about a month ago. While the concept of expressing gratitude for the harvest is pretty much universal, the holiday here is rife with conflicts and complex nuance, perhaps more this year than in most.
In most North American traditional cultures there is a deeply held belief that everyone in the community must eat and be warm; if there is food it is shared. Traditionally, elders, children, women, and persons who were ill or disabled are honored, and often fed first. This is particularly evident during ceremonies and on feast days.
In this time and place, in a culture that glorifies flaunting wealth and shuns, or attacks, the most vulnerable members of society rather than seeking to assure the well-being of all, Thanksgiving is particularly problematic. Complixifying the picture further is our government’s renewed attempts to disposes Native people, both those living on reservations and in urban areas, of our lands and cultures. For too many, this Thanksgiving will be a time of grief and wanting. For a great many it will also mark a period of renewed determination to return justice and caring to our society, and to preserve all that is beautiful and hopeful about our world.
In the face of all that is troubling, we are thankful that as precious winter sets in, our larder is full and our home is warm in temperature and spirit. This past week I turned 70 and our home overflowed with friends wishing me a joyous birthday! We were reminded that we are immensely blessed in that we are embedded in a loving community that spans generations, cultures, and traditions. This morning I was looking through some of the cards and gifts that were bestowed on me, and found myself filled with gratitude and immersed in a sense of being loved and valued, and felt profoundly moved.
This Thanksgiving week is indeed complex. Even so, may you and yours be blessed, and may we all remember to be grateful for what we are given. May we share what we have with all who are in need.