Thanksgiving is just two weeks away, and this has always been my favorite holiday.  You have great food, time with family, no presents to buy, and as a life-long Dallas Cowboys fan, I know that they’ll be playing that day!

Many of us can recall learning in school how the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag tribe celebrated the “first thanksgiving”.  Diverse people and language were barriers they overcame to commemorate a bountiful harvest and appreciate what they had.  Regardless of the historical accuracy or inaccuracies of how and when it actually happened, symbolically, it’s a powerful reminder of the power of a community.

As young children, we all probably made some sort of craft leading up to Thanksgiving Break, either the familiar black Pilgrim hat, or perhaps a cornucopia.  As we grew older, high school and college, we likely looked forward to a 4 day break from school, and as college students, having mom catch us up on a semester’s worth of laundry.  😊

As we mature into adulthood, each person and family develop their own Thanksgiving traditions.  I’ve taken on the role of hosting since our mother passed several years ago.  I just got a 24 pound turkey and “all the fixin’s” yesterday.  I’ve got 5 grown men and my 9 year-old daughter to feed!  I’ll brine it, cook it, baste it, and I’ll peel 10 to 20 pounds of potatoes, make stuffing, and everything else that we’ll enjoy.  My dad will bring a shrimp cocktail platter, a tradition that he carries on from family since departed, and my brothers and nephew will bring desserts to share.

Sometimes, it’s easy to get caught on auto-pilot…I’m certainly guilty of it.  We go about life from one activity or event to another, constantly connected to our phones or iPads and collapsing exhausted into bed at the end of the day.  This is a time of year to step back from all of that and recognize how fortunate and blessed many of us are.

As I’ve grown older, those traditions (food, family, Cowboys) still remain important, but I’ve now grown to appreciate what the holiday is meant to symbolize and to appreciate the fact that as fortunate and as blessed as many of us are.

For many people in our local communities, the holiday may feel less festive.  As the holiday season approaches, whether it’s a donation to United Way, buying a turkey dinner for a family in need at one of the local supermarkets, or serving meals, consider how you can help lift the spirits of someone else in the community, providing them an opportunity to step back from their situation and be thankful that we’re a community that cares.