How Thankful Are You This Year?

Thanksgiving exists because the early settlers survived in spite of horrific circumstances. Famine, unknown disease, and fear of the natives were only a few of the obstacles they faced. When the Mayflower anchored at Plymouth Rock there were no hospitals, grocery stores, or hotels. Imagine how thankful they were just to see another day!That original Thanksgiving meal included a hodgepodge of entrees like lobster and swan with root vegetables and hand kneaded breads. The Wampanoag Native Americans rubbed elbows with the devout group of Pilgrims at a hand-hewn wooden table with little in the way of commonalities. Language, customs, and religious beliefs couldn’t have been more diverse. Wouldn’t you like to have been a fly on the wall (or table) back then?

As we approach this season of gratitude, it might be easy to gloss over our traditions, considering the year we’ve had. How does the year 2020 compare with that 1621 feast?

Income strains, isolation, health worries, personal losses, racial divides, pronounced injustices from coast to coast, and of course political strife among other problems have plagued our lives from the get go.

Rather than forgetting the struggles, I hope to let them teach me something and stir me to improve my outlook and grow more grateful. I wonder how a Pilgrim or Native American would approach our table this year. What advice would those great ancestors give?

I suppose they would notice our heated houses and how we wrangle our turkey and ham from the corner grocery. And once they get over how we face-time our distant relatives and watch football on the big screen, I believe they would have a few suggestions for us.

They might tell us to look forward to the future with a sense of strength for what we have been through. Allow the problems and worries we have faced deepen our gratitude and prompt us to look for the simple joys in life, never to take anything or anyone for granted in the coming year. I feel a kindred spirit with the early settlers. After a tough year, they made it through, and I expect we will too.

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