It is an understatement to say this has been quite the year: unpredictable, isolating, economically challenging and even frightening at times. The lengthy, divided presidential election process election has done little to ease the heightened stress many of us have experienced for months. But before expecting to give a failing grade to the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, consider these 7 blessings almost all of us have in common…even in 2020!
Food – One of the first things that leaps to mind when Thanksgiving is mentioned is food, the abundant, mouth-watering goodies often rooted in family recipes. Traditional foods are front and center: turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes with gravy, sweet potatoes with marshmallows, squash, green beans, cranberry sauce, and of course, pumpkin pie. These foods are part of the Finger Lakes heritage, as well, particularly if you use cornbread stuffing. Corn, beans, and squash are the Three Sisters of the Iroquois whose confederacy included this region. Whether your Thanksgiving includes these classic foods or other favorite family dishes, breaking bread together with the whole family is arguably one of the best things about this holiday.
Faith – The Pilgrims, who celebrated the first Thanksgiving alongside Native Americans, came to North America for many reasons, one of which was to worship God freely. Thanksgiving has come to represent a celebration of faith and the freedom we have to enjoy it. As a multicultural melting pot, the United States welcomes people of all beliefs, religions, and creeds. For many, the right to honor one’s deeply-held beliefs is definitely a reason to give thanks.
Finger Lakes – It goes by many names: the Finger Lakes Region, Central & Western NY, the Devil’s Freezer…okay, I kind of made up that last one! Still, we undoubtedly live in one of the most beautiful and lush parts of the country. It beckons with rolling green hills, temperate valleys, several clear lakes, and rich agricultural areas which include apple orchards, a wide variety of stone fruits, and one of the best viticulture areas in the world. While it’s true our winters can be fairly cold, our spring and autumn seasons are colorful masterpieces, and our summers are warm, sunny and best enjoyed lakeside. As the blazing hues of autumn frame bountiful fields ready for harvest, it is easy to see why living in the Finger Lakes so often finds a place our gratitude lists.
Football – It’s a familiar sight: Americans watching football, cheering for their preferred team on Thanksgiving afternoon, munching finger foods and shouting at the television as the smells of the upcoming holiday feast wafts their way through the house. A spirit of healthy competition and athleticism prevails, and if your family is anything like mine, sides are quickly chosen, heightening the excitement. Why do we do it? It’s tradition. Besides, if you love football, any day is a good day for a game!
Freedom – Although the Pilgrims’ arrival on North American shores generates mixed feelings, many acknowledge that these settlers were seeking greater freedom: a value many Americans still hold dear today. Little could they have imagined that more than 100 years later, the United States, arguably one of the freest nations in the world, would be birthed on these very shores. The price of such freedom is the division caused by a kaleidoscope of opinions, but are we really more divided than ever before? While our disagreements may be more visible thanks to information technology and social media, we have yet to take up arms against each other to the tune of 750,000 lives, the number of Civil War casualties estimated in a 2012 New York Times article. Many of us see room for improvement, and we have the freedom to voice our concerns and unite for change. Some sadly resort to violence, but the fact that the majority of us, as unique people with inherently different points-of-view, continue to seek change peacefully is certainly something to be grateful for.
Forgiveness – Tempers flared all too often leading up to this year’s elections, and emotions ran high. Thanksgiving is the perfect time to extend forgiveness to those you love, election related or not. Gathering together for a sumptuous meal, giving thanks over shared traditions, reliving good memories and making new ones, and taking time out of our busy lives to reconnect with family are all wonderful reasons to extend the olive branch, whether it’s across the aisle or across the table.
Family – If you’re thinking we saved the best for last, you’re right! Food, faith, the Finger Lakes, football, freedom and even forgiveness are best enjoyed with those you love. Although there are still COVID-19 restrictions on gatherings, we’ve found unconventional ways to connect with family this Thanksgiving. Consider inviting family members to participate in family traditions virtually when possible. Don’t forgt to reach out to elderly family members, who have typically been the most isolated throughout this pandemic. Looking for a little interactive Thanksgiving fun? Try a word cloud generator like the one offered by Poll Everywhere. After posting a question like, “What are three things you are most thankful for this Thanksgiving?”; invite your family members to respond. Poll Everywhere will create a beautiful word cloud with their responses. The largest words will be those mentioned most often, resulting in an eye-catching mosaic of your family values.
Have a favorite Thanksgiving tradition or gratitude item we missed? Send it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We would love to share your thankful thoughts in our Positive Vibes for other readers to enjoy!