American Thanksgiving Celebrations

American Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday!  As a Canadian, I consider it a great privilege to celebrate this holiday with long-time friends who live in New York.

Tomorrow we plan to drive from Toronto to New York City. The trip itself is always exciting.  It’s a drive that takes nine or ten hours, depending on weather and traffic.

As soon as we cross the Canada – US border the enthusiasm of this holiday strikes.  Everyone at rest stops and service centres is smiling as they travel to visit family or friends.  Even the border guards seem happier. They typically wish us a happy thanksgiving after the routine passport examination is complete and we are cleared for entry to the United States.

As I happily anticipate the holiday events including renewing friendship, stimulating conversations, and wonderful food, my thoughts turn also to the meaning of Thanksgiving holidays.

Thanks and Giving

‘Thanks’, the first word in ‘Thanksgiving’, is my first thought. We give thanks for the bounty around us — good food, good friends, good health.  We give thanks for the privilege of living in a country that values freedom and the privilege of visiting a country with similar values. We give thanks for the beauty of nature, for the changing seasons, and for senses that see, hear, and smell all that surrounds us.

I also think of ‘giving’, the second word in ‘Thanksgiving’.  This holiday brings awareness of the needs of others.  We look at those immediately around us and remember the vulnerable, the weak and the children.  Their needs at holiday events are often forgotten.

When we celebrate we can think about how we share our blessings with others.  We can’t feign ignorance of the vast needs around us so this is the time to consider how to spread our abundance and share with others.

Perhaps it’s a helping hand to a neighbour, or a visit to a shut in friend, or a phone call to someone who is grieving.  Perhaps its an extra donation to a local the food bank, or cheque to a children’s charity or a homeless shelter.

Thanksgiving offers opportunities to make the world a happier place. The privilege of celebrating American Thanksgiving gives me a second opportunity this year for gratitude, for thanks, and for giving.

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