Who will say grace this Thanksgiving? It is customary, as we all know, for the head of the family or elderly member to give thanks for the “harvest reaped”, symbolic, of course, of a “fruitful season” in one’s life or prosperity or simply to show gratitude for what we have.
Thanksgiving celebrations date back to 1621 when the first English immigrants to America, the Pilgrims, gave thanks to the Lord and the Native American Indians for their contributing to what was then perceived as a bountiful first harvest as well as for their survival in their new land against all odds – harsh weather conditions, the threat of illness and inhospitable surroundings.
Since then, the English-speaking world has continued to commemorate Thanksgiving Day, be it on the second Monday of October by Canadians or the fourth Thursday of November by the Americans or British with a family gathering over a dinner of turkey, sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie, while expressing their gratitude for loved ones, their well-being and the year’s achievements.
This year, with the world in a state of recession, depression, scarcity and poverty, one may wonder if there is any grace that may amaze. What is there to be thankful for? A question many may ask and understandably so.
Is this the end of thanksgiving or is Thanksgiving a means to an end? Perhaps the answer lies, indeed, in a return to roots, that graceful act of cultivation. It may be worth reflecting and “revisiting” that first Thanksgiving of 1621.
Legend has it that after saying grace, the Pilgrims felt raindrops coming down over their heads thus quenching not just their thirst for divine providence, but watering their lands as well. That’s the grace of faith since it takes a leap of faith to say grace and thus recognize it on receiving it.
In more practical terms, however, in a world where rain is scarce due to climate change and, consequently, water supplies are slowly and steadily dwindling, we will have to learn to be grateful for the rare and minimal and appreciate the mere drop as all we’ve got and part and parcel of our precious lot.