Thanksgiving is a challenging holiday. The beautiful story of Native Americans and pilgrims joining together to give thanks is marred by the years of abuse which followed. However, if we look more closely at our holidays few of them are solely sunshine and roses. Christmas is accompanied by the Slaughter of the Innocents. Easter is a celebration of Jesus rising again...after being tortured and killed. Our patriotic holidays have a hefty dose of war and death in their history. Our holidays are a reflection of life. Life is a combination of death and birth, love and brokenness, plenty and want.
We need not throw out Thanksgiving as irredeemably tainted. The good and the bad are part of the reality of being human. What matters is how we move forward. As is fitting for this holiday season, moving forward with gratitude can help us to avoid some of the mistakes of the past. When we give thanks for the people in our lives we recognize our interdependence. When we give thanks for the blessings in our lives we recognize others are struggling. When we fill our hearts with gratitude we widen our vision, we humble ourselves and we make it a little bit easier to turn from our own self-interest and toward consideration of our brothers and sisters throughout the world. Thus, our thanks giving can bring us another step away from the atrocities of the past and present and hopefully one step closer to a more compassionate and generous future.
We can make the world a better place with simple things like gratitude. For this I give thanks.
by Sheri Ellwood