An Adult Holiday

A friend mentioned that his daughter, having celebrated her birthday in early November, was already focused on Christmas. He noted that kids don’t think much about Thanksgiving. His daughter’s mind passes right through it, without stopping.

But if children don’t think much of Thanksgiving, adults do. Thanksgiving grows on me as I grow older. It was my mother’s favorite day, and now I understand why. I still love the glitter and glory of Christmas, and the holy excitement of Easter. But Thanksgiving embodies simpler gifts.

It is the only non-commercial day left to us. Even Halloween is now swallowed by sales events. At Thanksgiving we give no gifts and make no special purchases (excepting yams and turkey and cranberries).  It is a time for family and friends to eat together and say thanks. In our house, twenty or so people will form a circle and say what they are thankful for in the past year. Gratitude readjusts us. It sets our minds on a healthy track.

Thanksgiving needs no explanation. Everybody—even the newest immigrant—understands it. There are no complicated rituals. It celebrates an attitude that is fundamentally religious, but does it without much religion. It is a modest day, not making a big deal of itself. It is a wholesome day, which no one yet has figured out how to make edgy.

In our family’s Thanksgiving celebration, there is always room for one more. We try to include people who are far from home or just in need of a place to belong for the day. Hospitality is part of the holiday, beginning with the native Americans who welcomed the pilgrims.

So this Thursday, be sure to be thankful for the day itself. For all our woes, for all our decadence and frivolousness, for all our carelessness, we still stop for a national day of thanksgiving.


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