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Thoughts on celebrating 2020’s strange Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is tomorrow and no matter how you end up celebrating it, or with whom, it promises to be a strange day.

There’s a new level of seriousness attached to the holiday than in past years. Instead of worrying about what dishes we’ll make or how many people we can fit at the dinner table, we’re focused as a society on how we’ll remain safe as we connect (sometimes virtually) to celebrate a cherished holiday tradition.

However your family decides to spend the day — together, apart or somewhere in-between — here are a few things to keep in mind.

  • To be able to lessen the loneliness of one human being this Thanksgiving is a profound gift. Take it. It can be as simple as waving hello to a neighbor who lives alone, or calling an old friend or relative and reconnecting, even if only for a few minutes. It’s the gift that’s more easily transmitted than the virus, and will uplift both the giver and receiver.

  • Do you express your gratitude out loud on Thanksgiving? Perhaps as part of a before-dinner prayer? This year, pause and consider all of the people doing the same thing across this divided nation of ours. That’s a lot of thanks being said on a continuum from East to West coasts.

Some say gratitude is healing - what if thousands of people expressing thanks in this way could spread a wave of healing for our collective well-being? What could that mean? Just for a moment, imagine it.

  • Thanksgiving is shaped from our national history. Or is it? This holiday, consider broadening your perspective on the tradition and its origins, if you haven’t already. Many of us learned a very narrow history during our school years about the Pilgrims and indigenous people and their relationship with each other.

Living in a region so close to the site of that first Thanksgiving, it’s important for us to learn the full story and to understand that the truth is more nuanced than we might have been taught. There are plenty of good sources on the internet to research what might have been left out, including writings from the native people who are still among us. It’s worth seeking their stories out.

Finally, stay safe. Keep each other safe as much as you are able.

Hopefully, in years to come, we’ll be back to having to put up the children’s table to accommodate all of our family members and reminiscing about that strange day, back in 2020, and telling stories of how we all got through it.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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