As you begin to pour the wine, carve the turkey and plan your shopping lists today, take a moment to pause and reflect on the true meaning of Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving started as a day of celebration that gave people a chance to give thanks for a good harvest and other fortunes in the past year. They often used the three-day Thanksgiving weekend to visit family or friends who live far away, or to receive them in their own homes. Many people also prepared a special meal to eat at some point during the long weekend. Thanksgiving Day is a holiday celebrated primarily in the United States and Canada, although it has European origins. Ancient Chinese, Ancient Greeks, Ancient Romans, Brazil (Dia Nacional de Acao de Gracas), British Isles (Lammas Day), Germany (Erntedankfest), Israel (Sukkot), Japan (Labor Thanksgiving Day), Korea (Chusok), Liberia (Thanksgiving Day), Mexico (Independence Day), and Switzerland (The Federal Day of Thanks, Penance, and Prayer) also celebrate a day of giving thanks every year.
In modern day, we receive our harvest from the big box grocery stores and often don’t know the original source of the food. We don’t rely on rain, sun and land anymore to determine how well we are going to eat next season. So, the meaning of Thanksgiving for us in the 21st century has changed quite a bit.
While we all have our own reasons for giving thanks, we should use this day to count our blessings, those that we take for granted during our daily routines. While volunteering and visiting different countries, I have seen people who live without electricity and running water; a dozen or so sharing one bedroom; many don’t have a comfortable bed to sleep in; who eat porridge for three meals a day; who don’t know where their next meal is going to come from; who don’t get to see their families for years as they can’t afford the cost of an airline ticket; and people who are so sick they are unaware of what day it is or who is around them. Every time I meet such people, I realize how lucky I am. How I so enjoy my king size bed with down comforter, a hot shower, temperature regulated environment and a refrigerator full of food.
Often times, I would ask them “What would make you happy?” and the common answers I would get across the world would be “a good job, being close to family and good health.” Ask yourself, do you already have what most people in the world want? Surely, it would be nice to have the latest Mac Book Air, a Coach purse and a vacation to the Caribbean, but if you already have health, family, work and a home, you have plenty to be thankful for.