When my family decided to adopt Thanksgiving shortly after moving to the States, we had no idea what we were signing up for.
Since then, we’ve tried at least 14 ways of making the blessed turkeys (the vegetarian option is no less tricky) and smoked out the house a couple of times. We’ve rotated which member of the family hosts and even which one cooks. My mum has since perfected the art of making pumpkin rolls, and my siblings and I have yet to perfect an argument as to why she needs to make them year-round instead of only once a year. While the pilgrims may not have, we started ending the whole affair with a heated game of Uno.
Speaking of which, we’re pretty sure the pilgrims didn’t have tortillas at the table along with Guatemalan chuchitos either, and many other entreés that remind us a little bit of home.
Now, I realize that Thanksgiving isn’t the ideal holiday. While it may celebrate a year of plenty and cooperation amongst people, history shows us how cruel people can be to other people.
Thanksgiving this year also falls on one of the worst years I have memory of. It seems as if society is tearing at the seams, and people all over the world are hurting.
Maybe that’s why enjoy Thanksgiving so much, because it’s not ideal.
Every once in a while I’ll visit a local synagogue in time for their thanksgiving service every Sabbath morning. During this time, the rabbi leads out and the congregation all say at once: Baruch ata Adonai, Eloheinu melekh ha’olam, and then end the phrase with something to be thankful for.
That line in Hebrew means “Blessed are you, Lord our God, King of the Universe.” I like the feeling of smallness this phrase gives me.
One time, the rabbi allowed the congregation to speak out and say something they were grateful for. “Baruch ata Adonai, Eloheinu melekh ha’olam,” he began, and a little girl that could not have been more than 10 years old yelled out, “Kittens!” The rabbi chuckled and finished the prayer, “for giving us kittens!”
I suppose giving thanks isn’t always ideal. What that little girl taught me that day is that the joy that kittens bring to her is just as powerful as anything I’ve received.
I know this might be cliché by now, but for some reason it is easier to dwell on the negatives than on the little things (and kittens) we take for granted. It wasn’t until last year when I had a Thanksgiving away from my family that I realized how much I needed the tortillas and the pumpkin roll to have that sense of “I’m home.”
I want to propose a new way of celebrating Thanksgiving: thinking of those who don’t have anything, thinking of those who aren’t “home,” and thinking of the little things (and kittens) that we get every day, and how we can share some of the little things (and kittens—and tortillas) we have to someone who may have less.
Life may be a pile of good things and a pile of bad things, and one may not always cancel the other out, but let’s strive to always add to everyone’s good things pile.