Thursday, November 26, 2009

Giving Thanks

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!! Just a regular work and school day over here in Europe. Which feels awfully strange. And makes me homesick for friends and family. Kirk and I are doubly blessed with awesome families we adore.

Today my Mom is entertaining a crowd of 16. She makes my Meme's yummy turkey, stuffing, rice and gravy. No doubt she is wearing my grandmother's apron in these wee morning hours of preparation. If I close my eyes I can almost smell and taste her meal. Her immaculate table is all ready to go - the seating arrangements and settings were thought through and complete days ago.

Kirk's family will be celebrating at home with his three handsome, younger brothers. All three brothers are fascinating and funny, caring and cool. I am glad Connor will grow up with the influence of successful, wonderful uncles. Carol makes broccoli casserole, corn pudding, and cranberries that are one of a kind. I think Thanksgiving food traditions are very nostalgic.

I came across this article and found the sentiment too perfect not to share...
A Time For Giving Thanks.
There are moments in the every day whirl of life when we stop just long enough to make an honest assessment of what we have and don‘t have, what we want and have perhaps lost, and, after considering it all, what we can truly be thankful for having in our life.

These times are not always about celebrating the big successes. But rather, more often than not, they are about the precious ordinary things that make life worth living. Even in the worst of times when everything isn‘t going the way we might have hoped and wanted, if we look honestly and sincerely at our lives, there is still much to celebrate.

The Thanksgiving holiday is one of those moments during the year when we deliberately take the time for giving thanks. In the tradition of the first Thanksgiving, we offer up our thanks for having family, friends, mates and community with which we can share life‘s experiences and upon whom we can depend in challenging times. We offer our thanks to those who offer us the support in life that makes it all just a little bit better: the family that stands with us in good and bad times, the teacher who spends a few extra moments to help our children, the friend who offers that helping hand, the vigilant Marine who stands as a sentinel at our gates, the stranger who takes the time to show us our way when we are lost in a foreign country, the co-worker who offers help and guidance, and all the others in our life who enrich it in a multitude of small ways and keep us safe, out of harms way.

The roots of our current Thanksgiving Day observance stem from a celebration in 1621 at Plymouth, Massachusetts. This was not a celebration of abundant bounty but one of mere survival. Less than half of the community of original colonists survived the previous winter, and it looked like the end for many more, if not the entire colony. However, the helping hand of the Native American Indians was extended to the decimated colonists. Even though the colonists might have been considered intruders and even potential enemies, the Indians took compassion on these stranded and desperate few. The natives taught the colonists how to grow Indian corn, pumpkins and squash. They showed the colonists where and how to fish and hunt. They taught these strangers the necessary skills to survive by living off the land. So with the harsh winter of 1621 quickly approaching, and all of their original supplies exhausted, the colonists were re- provisioned and knew they would be able make it through to the next spring and summer … thanks to the help of others.

The first Thanksgiving celebration was not a feast by the European standards of the time, but may have seemed to be one to the colonists, who were literally starving just a few months earlier. In the tradition of harvest festivals everywhere, neighbors and friends gathered together, both old and new, some 53 surviving colonists and 90 Indians, for a three-day celebration. There were no pies and cakes because the flour had run out long ago. Actually, the food of the first Thanksgiving meal was simple and plain: just native corn, roasted pumpkins and squash, wild turkeys, ducks and geese, venison from the five deer the Indians had brought to the celebration, and wild berries.

Most importantly, let us remember that the spirit of Thanksgiving is as much about helping others in need as giving thanks for what we have in our lives. By extending a helping hand we make the world a little kinder, gentler and more compassionate just as the Native Americans did for the colonists in 1621.
- By Stephen Carey

PS - An FYI for my Belgian friends for future T'givings: Leiden, Netherlands is south of Amsterdam about 3 hours drive from Brussels. It is the town that the Pilgrims left after they thought their children were becoming too Dutch. They went to America and founded our great country. Each year on Thanksgiving Day, November 26 this year, the American community of Leiden and DenHaag sponsor a non denominational church service in Saint Peters Church, the church that the pilgrims worshiped in between 1608 and 1620. This year the service begins at 11 AM.

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