I went to High School on Cape Cod, and as a kid encountered abundant markers, stories, and tales of the first white settlers to make landfall in pursuit of religious freedom and the possibility of prosperity. I often used to walk the cold November beaches and daydream about the hardships the Europeans endured that first winter when most of the 102 passengers spent the season on-board the ship awaiting spring’s arrival in dank, cold, fetid, and miserable conditions. I can only imagine the relief for the surviving 50 at the kindness and generosity of the Abenaki, Pawtuxet, and Wampanoag people who went to the few remaining people aboard the Mayflower with (I imagine) empathy and open hearts, sharing their goods and teaching what to eat, how to survive, and ultimately, how to thrive in the inhospitable climate. What if we let the magnitude of that moment in?
Despite the reality that our holiday of “Thanksgiving” has historically masked and minimized the long, cruel, and bloody history of white settlement in NorthAmerica, I still viscerally feel the heartfelt gratitude that everyone present must have felt in 1621 after an abundant summer harvest that promised less risk of death for those they loved as winter darkness arrived.Read more about the details of Thanksgiving history here. Coming together over a meal gathered through shared effort and cooked slowly over several days must have felt like a chance to inhale and exhale deeply for a brief moment in a collective pause as if to say, “we will be okay, together.”
Giving thanks reminds us that what we have is enough.
This Thanksgiving, what if we remember the bounty of our many privileges, whatever they may be, even as we remember the hardships of life?
And perhaps even more importantly, what if we share what we have with those who are unseen or invisible, in the dark or alone, cold or isolated? It is the reaching across that fills us up, not the fancy meal or adorned table. This week, we have a sanctioned reminder of everything we have that makes our lives abundant and joyful, most importantly, the company of other human beings who will sit with us to do what must be done even as darkness falls and fear prevails.