Thanksgiving is a day of tradition for my family. The core of the tradition is the gathering of all of our family at our farm outside of Atlanta for “supper” in the early afternoon. The tradition includes having the television on in the background tuned to the Macy’s Day Parade in the morning and to football in the afternoon. It includes the smell of the feast being prepared including oyster stuffing, sweet potato casserole, and artichoke and spinach casserole that compliment a turkey of exquisite proportion. It includes fresh baked pecan and pumpkin pies for dessert. It includes squeezing more chairs around the dining table than any other day of the year creating a feeling of coziness and community that is unique to the day.
My Thanksgiving tradition also includes a period of reflection and a prayer of thankfulness for the family, food, and freedom with which we have been blessed and never take for granted. The warmth of those blessings give me pause as I think of those who are missing family, worrying about where their next meal will come from, or living in a part of the world where the freedoms that come with being an American do not exist. It reminds me of the family and friends that I have lost, and I try to fill the ache of missing them with a gratitude for the time we had together and a deeper appreciation of those around me.
The tradition includes my children’s holiday school projects with drawings and costumes of pilgrims and Native Americans coming together to share a meal. These are reminders of the diversity of our country and the core compassion I believe most Americans possess. For me, Thanksgiving is a day of reflection on the past and the sacrifices that those who came before me made to make today possible. The reflection makes me hopeful for the future, but it most strongly makes me appreciate the present, the meal, the smells, the smiles, the conversations, and the love in the room.
I hope you have a warm and loving Thanksgiving and can pause in the hustle of the world that we live in and enjoy the moment. In the words of my late friend Sam, “make it a great day!”