This week in the United States, the majority of people will be celebrating Thanksgiving Day -- which is my favorite holiday.  It is incredibly wonderful to eat some of my favorite holiday foods that I don't get to eat the rest of the year, like sugary fresh cranberry sauce, savory sage dressing, rich brown gravy and spicy pumpkin pie!  But I think it is my favorite holiday because it is a time of giving thanks to G_d (which, personally, I like to do a lot especially using large, majestically-crafted, multi-keyed, potentially-loud musical instruments). We are so blessed to have Torah and Tanakh's teachings telling us that it is good to give thanks to the Lord for all things because He is good -- for the harvest and our food, our water, our homes, our families, our friends, our jobs, our communities and countries, our health, our possessions, good weather, etc

If you stop and think about it, this is kind of unique holiday in that it started from struggling Separatist-Christian colonists' Bible-based and stoic Native American's practical customs surrounding eating together in a celebration of provision and survival. Anyone who has studied the history of the Pilgrims at Plymouth Rock, Massachusetts, can attest that their first few years in the New World were terrible full of sacrifice, hardships, illness, and loss of life.  I think one of the reasons this holiday resonates with so many people is that this simple celebration of giving thanks to G_d was such a joyous time for the Pilgrims in contrast to their arduous daily realities of building a new colony and a new life in the name of freedom.  

That's all the Pilgrims and their Native American neighbors did for that first 4-day celebration -- prepare food, give thanks, then eat and then eat some more -- which is something every culture tends to know how to do (pretty well, actually!).  I understand the first year of observance, the Native Americans demonstrated some of their dances around a large bonfire where the feast's participants collected after dinner, and they also demonstrated how to make their delicacy now known as popcorn.   The Pilgrims were so delighted at their neighbors' contributions, even though the Native American's customs were so different from those of the Pilgrims! So, there's no right or wrong way to celebrate an American Thanksgiving!  Now, people who have come from all over the world, Native Peoples, people who practice most every religion on Earth (including agnostics and atheists), people of every background, families of every size, people of every profession, people from every socioeconomic group, people making and serving every kind of food, military members at home and abroad, international travellers wherever they are, and people speaking every language at their dinner tables are celebrating how thankful they are for the simple things we can easily take for granted.  It truly is a pluralistic, inclusive holiday.

You don't have to have all of the decorative trappings that are seen with some other holidays, and there's nobody really saying, "This is the right way to do it!"  (Except maybe Martha Stewart, but if that's her thing in life... Let her do things her way!  I learned a long time ago that she doesn't live at my house...)  If you want to watch parades and football all day and eat something as simple as chips and sandwiches off of paper plates on a fold-up card table in front of your television, you can do that as long as you're grateful deep-down inside for something!  If you just want to collapse and rest, completely relieved to finally have a day off, and then you just spend the day hugging your significant other, kids, friends, extended family, favorite football team's picture, pillow(s), and/or pet(s), that's perfectly acceptable as well!

Here's wishing everyone happy and blessed holidays in the weeks ahead!  
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