Although I often question the initial narrative that underlies the holiday, there are several reasons why I love Thanksgiving.
Giving Thanks is Always Good
Whatever my current circumstances, identifying reasons to be grateful always enlivens and humbles me. I am a person who can focus on what is not going “just so,” situations that could be better, and so on.
When I take time to reflect on the blessings in my life, I put this critical mindset to the side. I realize how grateful I am for my family, and how thankful I am to have friends and acquaintances. I love where I live. I am not perfectly healthy, but I have my health (and health insurance). Most of my loved ones are doing well, relatively speaking.
On one hand, it feels selfish for me to be thankful when I know that people are dying in war zones or suffering from hunger, abuse, and discrimination. On the other hand, this awareness reminds me that I have little excuse to be grumpy or ungrateful.
Thanksgiving is a Long Weekend
Thanksgiving is always on a Thursday but includes a free Friday for many. The long weekend allows people to travel to see friends or family. (I am aware that people with certain jobs do not necessarily get Thanksgiving or the next day off.)
Thanksgiving does not involve buying gifts or having a tree in one’s house. It is less complicated. It is a good day for snuggling in front of the fireplace with a book, taking a walk barring bad weather, or seeing a movie.
I like that it is a late-afternoon celebration. A person can ready some of the food the day before or in the morning and still have the early afternoon to enjoy the smell of turkey cooking.
The Celebration Can Be Big or Small
While I have attended larger Thanksgiving gatherings, I usually attend smaller ones. The benefits of a big crowd are usually the energy and just the delight of seeing so many people. Smaller gatherings are simpler and more peaceful.
The Day Can Be Religious
I have enjoyed attending religious services on Thanksgiving. I do not usually think of this holiday primarily as religious. It seems, however, that giving thanks abstractly does not make sense. Including the Giver of All Gifts on the day seems only appropriate. Such a focus helps me also helps me put my blessings in proper perspective given the struggles of others.
We Come as We Are
I received an invitation to a Thanksgiving gathering with a family who has just lost a young woman and wife to cancer. This will be a difficult holiday for them, the first without her. Even though I love Thanksgiving in general, we always arrive with whatever joys or sorrows we carry with us.
My sister, who works in healthcare, told me that there are many deaths around Thanksgiving and Christmas. People who know that their end is near hope to celebrate one more time with their loved ones. Because of this, some families are missing persons who did not survive long enough to celebrate in person.
Happy Thanksgiving to all!