I have to tell you something. I know it is a little controversial to say this during Thanksgiving week, but here goes. Turkeys intimidate me. They confuse me. Turkeys are dry if not prepared the right way. They are large and I have struggled, wrestling with, prepping, seasoning, cooking and carving such large birds. I have in recent years, found a recipe that has miraculously delivered a moist, delicious bird but I still prefer to cook this just for 2 or 3 people. This is because the bird requires a lot more time and attention when you are trying to entertain. More than the simple roast chicken. In addition, an online poll showed that the top favorite dish for Americans during Thanksgiving is…mashed potatoes. That’s right folks. The humble potato.
The Original Intent of Thanksgiving
The only reason I choose to confess this opinion of turkey now, is this. For the first time in a super long time and maybe never, many households in the United States will be forced to celebrate Thanksgiving with no more than one or two people at the table. Therefore, this year many people are opting to serve just turkey breast or chicken or some other celebratory dish. In addition, many people have lost their jobs due to the pandemic and being food insecure, cannot afford to celebrate as lavishly this year. They may have to budget their Thanksgiving meal.
In the interest of full disclosure I have to remind you that I wasn’t born or even brought up in the United States, so you may dismiss me as ignorant of the true Thanksgiving spirit. However, there is a point I am trying to make. There is insight here from the very perspective of a relative Thanksgiving rookie. Please hear me out.
While Christmas had been overly commercialized by retailers who have forced people to make the holiday all about buying expensive gifts, I found as a new immigrant all those years ago that Thanksgiving had not been tainted in the same manner. I loved that it was a holiday about many people getting together to share food and spend time together.
Then and Now of Thanksgiving
So what do we do this year? Is this the year we get nothing good from this important holiday? Do we get depressed because we don’t get to do what so many of us were able to do so easily in years past? I say ‘no’. My friends let us try something a little different this year. Let us acknowledge how horribly painful this year has been and be grateful anyway.
Believe me, I know that it is hard to do this. My not so recent past as a single mother, with no child support, forced me to focus. It helped me focus not on what I did not have but on that which I did have, even if it was something tiny and even just for a day. And I struggled a lot with the concept because I had experienced a comfortable, privileged upbringing. In essence, I had been a cloistered child. So it was a grueling process to list anything that I had no matter how tiny it was and express gratitude.
Let us first acknowledge that we were able to enjoy Thanksgivings past and be grateful for the experience. Let us also not dwell on what we don’t have at our table. Let us try to appreciate what we have even when we know others have more than us. I can tell you my experience as a single mother taught me and transformed me, by doing this very thing. Let us decide that this Thanksgiving of 2020 is about learning and change. Let us see 2020 as they year that brought us to a fork in the road, where we focused on what we had and decided what our perspectives should be going forward. Let us try and appreciate what we have and know it is enough.
Gratitude for the Future
This year the United States and many other countries faced Covid-19. Along with it came, many losses and tragedies. We cannot deny the losses we all faced in many different forms. But, going forward, can we say that we have gained some things? Can we say that we are grateful and thankful that we are able to move forward, strong and resolute, despite the losses? Dare we say that we will emerge from this dark year with a newness and with fresh perspectives? Most of all, will we be thankful, on looking back, that we have grown stronger and more resilient because of all these challenges? I believe we can. I hope you do too.