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Chatterbox: A very big little holiday


Thanksgiving is at the door.

Personally, I wish we celebrated it with far more history than we do. Although we still celebrate the harvest, I feel we could and should be calling attention to our indigenous people and expanding the commemoration of their generous part in the very first Thanksgiving. Still, like all our holidays, it’s become whatever it was commercialized to be.

There is, too, that timing handicap, at least in America. In Canada, Thanksgiving is in October, but here, it gets squashed between Halloween and Christmas. However, it’s important to remember that, despite all this, Thanksgiving still remains very special because, as holidays go, it’s like no other.

All year long we have holidays of busy and crazy celebrating. First day of the year, it starts. New Year’s Day has parades and floats, recouping from the night before, and some large traditional meal with loved ones. Then, Valentine’s Day comes with cards, flowers, candy, and romantic dinners. St. Patrick’s Day has its Irish pride, the parade, corned beef, and bar buses. We’ve got: Easter bunnies, egg hunts and chocolate; the Fourth of July with red, white and blue, fireworks, barbecues, and baseball; Halloween brings dress-up, pumpkin carving, trick-or-treating and residual battles with sugar-infused kids. Christmas is a stand-out and just plain crazy all around with huge dinners, decorating and parties, trees and lights, Santa, snow, shopping, wreaths, wrapping, and returns. Finally, there’s New Year’s Eve which simply defies description.

Thanksgiving, though, is all its own. On Turkey Day, there are no candles unless we choose them. Heck, some of us don’t even have a bird; we have a cow … or a ham, pasta, pizza, or a vegan meal. Sure, we might hang a paper turkey in the window or blow one up on the lawn but, really, that’s about it.

This simple holiday celebrates the year’s last harvest with food, family and friends. It may be just one day, one meal, and wedged between two big shots, but it’s unique and we love celebrating it because it’s fairly low pressure. We shop. We cook. We eat. It’s an “all about loved ones” kind of day with no side bar distractions adding stress. It stands tall all by itself, in its simplicity – the smoothest of all the holidays. It’s that little gem of a sweet gathering and the much needed breather between the creative exhaustion of Halloween, and the anxiety, expense, and exertion of what Christmas has become. In that way, however wedged he may be between those fat, round pumpkins and that fat, round Santa, old Tom Turkey holds his own.

This Thanksgiving, we hope that those of us who have lots to be grateful for, and those of us who have anything to be grateful for, remember those of us who have much less, too little, or nothing to celebrate.

Many people practice quiet donations all year long (with or without tax deductions), as the opportunity to “pass it forward” is ever and always at hand. We don’t have to be rich to share what we have.

If we are thankful for a warm safe hotel room in a blizzard or while visiting family, or even during the good fortune of traveling, we can leave a few dollars with a thank you note to “Housekeeping” each morning. Wait staff, valets, porters at airports, even the people who pump our gas appreciate a token of gratitude from us, anytime. Part of giving thanks in every way, and any way, is passing it on every day.

The greatest debate I hear is usually about the homeless because we can’t be sure we’re actually helping, but there are many ways to assist if we’re skeptical. Our generosity should never be curbed by doubt.

Most people remember around the holidays to show great generosity to others, so soup kitchens, shelters and food pantries are flusher, but they always appreciate donations. Opportunity and need present themselves every day and we can donate all year long. We can’t help every place or every time but, when we have a moment and a safe situation, it’s always right. Then, we can help make every day Thanksgiving for those who need it the most, and for us.

I couldn’t find the origin of this statement, but it’s true no matter who said it: “Anything we share is enjoyed twice.”

Happy Thanksgiving.