Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving


Ready or not, it's that time of year again when we pop that oversized turkey into the oven and hope for the best and that it's moist and delicious! Perhaps it's time to shine the silver and polish the wine glasses reserved for special occasions. It is most certainly a time for families to get together and give thanks for the bounty provided by the good earth and for the many blessings of our lives. Although gratitude is an expression of thanks which we hopefully develop as a habit, even in our busy lives, Thanksgiving Day has rituals and customs which are special. For one thing, it is a time when families and close friends gather to share in a feast. In many cases, guests are asked to help out by either providing a part of the meal, such as a vegetable dish, a dessert, an hors d'oeuvres or even by performing a task such as carving the turkey.

I am often asked to carve the bird or roast wherever I go for reasons, which still elude me. I imagine if a host is not acquainted with carving it will be left to someone like me or another guest. And there are those times when speed and precision do come in handy if the host is not adept at carving. Perhaps the art of carving which is an intricate part of the Thanksgiving holiday and a tradition ought to be part of an etiquette lesson. As with any skill, if it is taught properly and practiced it will make a perfect addition to any holiday. Whoever is carving, be sure that there is a sharp knife available and all the other tools necessary to make carving and serving the all-important bird on Thanksgiving. There are many ways of carving just as there are many recipes for cooking the perfect turkey. All methods work when executed properly.
This celebration comes at the end of the fall harvest. This year's bounty was especially plentiful and therefore there is a lot for which to be thankful. Expressing our thanks is an important tradition to pass on to our children and grandchildren. Instilling the virtues of feeling thanks and giving thanks are customs which permeate human societies everywhere. It is what makes societies healthy and able to thrive.
In the seemingly busy lives which we lead, sometimes we not only forget to give thanks but we also are guilty of not feeling gratitude in the first place. Such occasions as Thanksgiving afford us the opportunity to take the time to both feel and express our gratitude for the lives with which we are blessed. Perhaps focusing on only that for which are grateful gives us a chance to see some of our hardships and challenges as opportunities. Even family squabbles can be put into perspective and viewed in a different light if we were to stop and count our blessings of even having a family with whom to celebrate in the first place.
As I have discussed in previous columns, I am not a fan of putting people on the spot at the dinner table. However, there is no better place for people to be given the opportunity to express what they are feeling thankful for than at the table. If offered as a voluntary chance to speak, those who are in the mood and feel so moved can show others how easy it is, and by their example encourage more shy people to at least consider giving it a try. Who knows, with any luck, one day everyone sitting around the table will feel not only grateful but moved to express their feelings.
Of all meals, the Thanksgiving dinner is one where almost all of us stop to give thanks to the source of all of our bounty, no matter what that source may be. We give thanks for the food, our shelter, our health, the many opportunities set before us and our friendships and love for our families, friends, neighbors and others who make our lives complete.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone. I hope the gratitude we feel at this time of year is expressed freely and continues throughout this and every year!