Thanksgiving encourages a generous spirit

November 27, 2013 

There may be no Thanksgiving elves, but there is most emphatically a Thanksgiving spirit, a feeling that seems to survive no matter what sorts of adversity we’re facing as families and individuals. Oh, certainly some Thanksgivings are better than others, happier than others, more meaningful than others.

And yes, there are sad holidays spent in hospitals on occasion, or away from hearth and home or in preoccupation with work or or perhaps some weakened family ties.

But that’s when, somehow, the Thanksgiving spirit surges. The spirit will be in evidence today not just in the affluent neighborhoods where the bird and the fixings are catered or at the private clubs where the fare is served on silver and the beverages are consumed in crystal. In fact, the spirit will be most evident at soup kitchens and in churches and restaurants where the poor and the homeless will be sitting down to a rare hot meal in the company of others.

No one will be taking stock of possessions or boasting or complaining about the service. No, these strangers, most of them, will be side by side and across from each other and reckoning as to how it’s good to be with other folks on this day, and how grateful they are. How thankful.

And there’s the spirit in abundance, yes indeed. When those among us who have the fewest reasons to be thankful show us that they are the most thankful of all. Amen for you, brothers and sisters.

No matter what our worries on this day, we must pause for those men and women in the armed forces, far from home, many in harm’s way, who’ll have their dinner today under a tent or in a mess hall, and will be thinking of their mothers, fathers, wives, husbands and especially their children.

Their hearts will be heavy indeed, warmed somewhat by the faithful presence of their comrades, but still burdened by thoughts of where they’d like to be. They’ll be thankful, we hope, for the safety of their loved ones and comforted by the knowledge that military families have a way of gathering together today, to comfort one another. Only those who have worn the uniform and missed holidays can truly know what it feels like, but the rest of us can say, thank you. So, thank you.

Thanksgiving also begins the Christmas season, and so it’s time to think about helping those less fortunate, the families not together for some reasons, the children worried that they’ll have nothing for Christmas, the parents whose holidays are clouded by the fear that they won’t be able to provide. So today, consider making Black Friday a generous Friday, perhaps a day to shop for the less fortunate, for the ones without. If you go to the malls, stop at the Angel trees first, perhaps.

Above all, if we’re fortunate enough to join family and friends for a good meal and companionship, we must not take anything for granted. We bow our heads, and we mean it. We think of those who have passed on, after enriching our lives. And we give thanks for them. We think of that special friend, far away now, and we give thanks. We think of all those Thanksgivings past, all the laughter and the memories, and give thanks. And we hope for more to come, and for those who are lonely or hungry we hope that better days are ahead.

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