If it isn’t already, the smell of turkey is probably starting to waft throughout your home this morning. That smell will soon be accompanied by the many delicious side-dishes — cranberries, stuffing, green-bean casserole, bread and sweet potatoes — that will also adorn your table. Second helpings are a given, with the promise of leftovers for tomorrow after returning from Black Friday shopping excursions.
We know that isn’t everyone’s holiday; it’s the stereotype of what Thanksgiving has become.
But stereotypes are often rooted — at some level — in reality. What does it say about us that a country founded by people who arrived with what scant possession they could fit on a boat is now defined by excess? Or that the “first” Thanksgiving, held in the autumn of 1621 to celebrate a bountiful harvest that should allow the pilgrims to eat through the approaching harsh winter, is now a holiday where we see how much we can stuff ourselves silly in just one day?
By all means, enjoy the feast that will soon be on your table. We’re not one to begrudge landing a good deal on a gift that will bring joy to a loved one. We don’t want to assume the role of The Grinch to kids who are making out wish lists and dreaming about what they might receive this year. We just encourage everyone to spend part of today being thankful for what we have, too. Because most of us can find some simple reasons to bow our head in a moment of thanks.
There are the basics. Maybe we aren’t sporting the clothing labels we wish we were in our jeans and shirts. Or we had hoped for a bigger home, or larger turkey on the table. Yet just having clothing, shelter and food makes us luckier than many. The income-insecure people in our community may struggle to find all three. They would gladly take what you wish were bigger or better.
There are the people who don’t get to spend today gathered around a table with family, who have to work, that we should take a moment to thank. Police officers, firefighters, members of the military, doctors, nurses, dispatchers and public works employees (among others) are on the clock today, ready to serve those who need help on the holiday.
How about a moment of gratitude for the many generous people in our community who are willing to lend a hand to those in need? These are our neighbors who volunteer at our local nonprofits or donate money to worthwhile initiatives, or who packed or delivered a basket of food this holiday to those who would otherwise go without, or are planning on buying toys so a child who otherwise would go without will instead find toys to unwrap on Christmas morning.
You may not have liked the results from the Nov. 6 election, but we should all be grateful we live in a country where voting is a right. That’s not to say there aren’t improvements that need to be made in our election system or our legislative bodies — it would be wonderful if an average Joe could have a realistic shot at offices like governor without needing millions of dollars to run a successful campaign — but our system remains better than many.
And we are thankful for those we call friends and family, who are there for us to celebrate the good times and hold our hands during the bad. Life would be less joyful if they were not there.
We are sure everyone can find a blessing or two to be grateful for today. And before you dig in for seconds (or thirds), just take a minute to say thank you.