This year with the COVID virus raging among us, it was difficult to get together with family and friends. To be safe many did not do so. Does this mean that our Thanksgiving was deleted this year? After all, it is traditional to “get together” at this time. But, to some extent maybe it would be worthwhile to consider the reason for and the history of Thanksgiving. The early Pilgrims were nearly at the point of starvation in a land that they knew nothing about. They were frightened of the “natives” who lived in the woods and on the shore with a very different lifestyle than the Europeans.  One of their first defenses was to build a fence around their encampment and keep out strangers. They all but isolated themselves in the small area in which they lived. Except for some hunting and fishing they stayed very much to themselves. Does this sound familiar?

What they did learn is that the strangers around them actually came to their rescue with the ability to withstand the coming winter. For this they certainly gave thanks and praised God. Over the generations this relationship was badly broken by the Europeans. The later treatment of the native is something we often forget in our Thanksgiving celebration of today.  Thanksgiving is a time of both joy and brokenness. It is a time we should be thankful for all we have been given and it is a time that we should remember the strangers among us. It is a time we become mindful of why we should give thanks.

This year our Thanksgiving was most likely “different” from our previous celebrations. The stranger who brought us some food while we were isolated, the nurse and doctors who we did not know but came to our aid as we were ill. The people who worked in our stores as clerks and shelf-stackers, the bus drivers and workers who delivered our goods, the police who continued to protect our towns, the polling place workers who enabled us to continue our right to vote, the postal workers who made sure we were in contact….and the list can go on. The strangers among us who gave us support; were we thankful enough to give thanks?

Henry David Thoreau said, “I am grateful for what I am and have. My Thanksgiving is perpetual.”