Every year I get to write a Thanksgiving column. This holiday is a joyful time for my entire family and our best friends. We all make our favorite dishes, which we proudly bring to the Thanksgiving table – everything from green beans with cream of mushroom soup and those fried onions on top, to creamed spinach, from turkey and stuffing, to all those pies.
And don’t forget the libations and the good cheer. All in all, the day is right atop my list of favorite things.
As with so many activities, however, everything is not always perfect. We’d like it to be, but there are often clouds on the horizon that can mar an otherwise fine time.
Back in the day – and by that I mean in the 1960s – I learned during one Thanksgiving at my Aunt Myrtle’s house that everyone at the table full of love didn’t share my political perspective. I was shocked. Here I was, back from college, filled with knowledge of what was absolutely right and what was absolutely wrong and – BINGO! – I got into an argument.
This was not what my mother intended at that festive table. Not at all.
It reminds me of one of my favorite quotations from Charles Dickens, the opening lines of “A Tale of Two Cities”:
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going directly the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.”
Hmm, those are some incredible opening words by Dickens. That paragraph certainly could have been written today.
Now, bear with me for just a moment as I tie this together.
When I go to the dog park with our new doggie, Zyggy, it’s always fun. People are smiling, laughing, talking about their dog, your dog, the weather, all that stuff you do in fellowship. I know some of them are on my side of the political spectrum, while others are on the other side. But in the dog park, there is only the doggie spectrum – we are all in the same place.
Our country’s very first Thanksgiving also was a time of unconditional fellowship and camaraderie. The first Thanksgiving came after a successful pilgrim harvest in 1621. It was three days of fun (I suspect libations played a role here) attended by Native Americans and the newcomer pilgrims, coming together despite their differences. That Dickens quote could apply to this 1600s event just as it could apply to our lives today.
In thinking about Thanksgiving – both the long-ago first celebration and the one soon to be upon us – I’ve started to realize that this holiday just might be a time of truce. We can come together at the Thanksgiving table and share thanks, not arguments.
When Abraham Lincoln first declared Thanksgiving a national holiday back in 1863, people lived to an average age in their mid-40s; today’s children can expect to live well into their 80s – and live well at that. That’s certainly something to be thankful for.
It may seem like Pollyanna, overly optimistic, just to ignore any bad stuff that’s happening in our world or brush it under the carpet. But I kind of like the idea of having a time set aside for love and fellowship and joy and happiness. On Friday, I can go back to reality.
Happy Thanksgiving, everybody. Stay well.