Monday’s Meditation: On Thanksgiving
This week, families across the US will gather together for the thanksgiving holiday. They will each do so in different manners, some eating cranberries, some clustering around the television to root for their beloved football teams, some sitting obediently at printed place cards, passing around dinner rolls and grilled asparagus and fried chicken, so that were you to peer into the dining room windows of homes throughout America, you might find a shared framework for the day: there will be food, there will be people, there will be conversation.
Of course, thanksgiving is as arbitrary as every other holiday: it is the day to say thanks and gather with family and eat turkey because we said it is. If – god forbid, don’t take this as a challenge, weather- another massive hurricane were to strike this week, perhaps we would reschedule it as was done with Halloween.
Despite the arbitrariness, we continue to subscribe to it. Why? Well, for starters, it’s largely gratuitous: the eating of foods, the being with people one loves, the reflecting over the blessings in one’s life.
Steeped in celebratory holidays, too, is the sheepish guilt of knowing that every day could and should include the prescribed festivities. So many father’s day cards, for instance, have begun with the phrase, “Of course you’re the best dad in the whole world everyday but especially today—”
But life gets in the way, you see. It takes us up with meetings and laziness and TV shows and calling that person back to reschedule that thing and I guess that’s the point: holidays are rare occasions which invite us to reflect on whatever it is we ought to be, to begin with, but couldn’t be bothered to.
So it’s all a bit forced, then, we can agree. And yet, and yet…
It strikes me that being thankful, purposefully taking a moment to reflect on all the goodness in one’s life, is one of the more important and meaningful activities we might engage in. If it takes a special holiday, an obligatory round of “let’s all go around the table and say what we’re thankful for,” it will be well worth it. I can’t- truly- begin to conjure up the idea of a person who has nothing to be thankful for. Indeed, even the lowest person, the depraved and deprived, the one suffering in squalor, will find something, some thing to be thankful for. It will be smaller than the items that make your list or mine, no doubt, but it will exist: water, a shower, perhaps even the thankfulness for the absence of a particular form of suffering. That, too, I think, would qualify.
Let us gather this thanksgiving with loved ones and dine on delicious morsels. Let us make jokes and laugh and fuss over the presentation of the bird. Why not. Have at it. Let us obsess throughout the meal over the tenderness of said bird, the rate at which it was cooked in relation to its dryness. Let us revel in being among those we are deeply rooted to. Let us linger, with pureness of heart, with passion in thought, for a flickering instant at least on the reasons each one of us has cause for thanksgiving. And let us not only celebrate on the appointed day, but commit to carrying over just the slightest bit of that spirit of thanksgiving into the everyday. Let us say thanks and continue to.Image credit: South Brooklyn Post
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