In Canada, this coming Monday, October 12th is our Thanksgiving Holiday. The day we gather with family and/or friends, sometimes alone, to give thanks for all the gifts we have received in this life. It really is a day of reflection and gathering to eat the bounty we so generously receive and to share with others and perhaps those less fortunate than ourselves. In past Thanksgivings, while gathered around the table, we gave thanks with the following prayer. “Bless us O Lord, and these thy gifts which we receive from thy generous bounty, through Christ Our Lord. Amen.” This prayer would be followed by each person describing what they have been most grateful for over the past year. A lovely tradition of warmth and thanksgiving. In Canada we are truly blessed. That acknowledged does not dismiss the fact people everyday in our country go hungry and lack the basic essentials of life. That on this day, many are isolated and lonely.
Canadians are fortunate to live in a country where our freedoms and rights are valued. We are able to celebrate our culture, practice our religion and spirituality, honor our traditions, choose our significant others, choose our life path. Sometimes it is our own loved ones that deny us who we are, cross sacred boundaries and establish barriers. We are no doubt blessed to live in this great and bountiful country but, barriers established by our own beliefs can deny our loved ones of their own human rights. While it remains true traditions and ethnic foods help to bind people and families together, the reality is, families and loved ones are scattered across the globe making these traditions more of a challenge to keep with each passing year. Cultures blend together, traditions become blurred and combined but, somewhere in between lies the value in coming together, meeting and greeting. Be it through social media or a phone call, it is longing to see and hear the familiar faces of our loved ones near and far that appears to be the most important component of the celebration. There are families and groups who choose destination gatherings, perhaps the half way point, so all may attend. There are hotels with pools for children to delight, shopping trips for mothers and daughters, father son, father daughter outings and restaurants that serve up tasty Thanksgiving meals not to be compared to Mom’s homemade pumpkin pie. Once again the focus appears to be on the gathering of loved ones, children, parents, grandparents, relatives of every shape and size.
There is no doubt traditions are changing, morphing into the new, sometimes clinging onto the old. Diets are morphing too. Just ask the vegan, lacto-ovo, gluten-free, raw based, plant-based person about the Thanksgiving turkey served up with gravy and mashed potatoes. Which dish holds the place of honor at tables where the turkey is not the honored guest.? Despite the changes in our rapidly expanding worlds, you cannot dispute the fact change is occurring. And like it or not, with or without your blessing, the changes will continue to occur. Perhaps then, so too should our focus shift on these traditional days scattered throughout our year. Is it really so much about the food, tablecloths, pumpkins and pie. Is it the day upon which we celebrate, who is invited and who is not, what dishes are served and how soon after dinner we get to eat dessert. I think it is more about the laughter, warmth, love and that huge sense of belonging. Knowing somehow we matter in this world. Knowing we make a difference just by being there. Demonstrating kindness and tolerance, being open-minded, open-hearted. Making amends with those we have offended realizing it is far more beneficial to be happy than to be right. Acknowledging our failures and celebrating our achievements. And that through it all, we take time out of our busy lives to share with those less fortunate, the neighbor sitting alone, the soup kitchen in your community, the food bank donations, or any other small gift of love you are able to share. I am grateful for all my blessings even when life creates distance between us. Be grateful too. If you have nothing to give, consider giving yourself, to hold a hand, hold a heart, smile, comfort, care, listen, love. Grateful you have a soul that harvests gifts to share. Happy Thanksgiving Canada! May your homes and hearts be filled with light, love and laughter.
Photography by Christine Wasnie, “Nature Speaks”