I’ve always enjoyed the old song lyrics, “Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.” But I feel that lately, the words have changed to, “Let there be outrage on earth, and let it begin with me.” We’re bombard us every day by shocking news headlines. If there were feel good stories about humanity would we choose to share them over opinions of stories on cruelty, corruption, and injustices?
Which beliefs are important and which issues will be let go, may never be defined! Checking our bag of politics, finance, and religious topics at the door, before we arrive at the Thanksgiving table might keep those argumentative, condemnatory attitudes from souring the feast. Let’s not be fooled into thinking it’s acceptable to be rude and uncaring if it’s for the right cause. It’s never okay to be nasty!
The meaning of Thanksgiving for me, is putting aside our differences, celebrating our accomplishments and knowledge we’ve learned over the past year. It’s a time to be selfless, to pour out generosity on others without any expectations of receiving anything in return. It is the start to the season of giving. And the New Year will ring as if it were the final bell at the end of a boxing match. That’s when we can relax, feel good that we’ve fought a good fight against racism, and social or religious injustices.
At a time when The Cold War was still fresh in the minds of Americans, my father brought home three Russians for Thanksgiving dinner. While most people thought of the Russians as the devil incarnate, my father worked hard to dissuade racial prejudices.
It really wasn’t clear to me why these men came to our house. Thanksgiving means nothing to anyone other than people in the United States. I remember wondering, “Don’t they have any place better to go?” The thought wasn’t because they weren’t welcome, rather it was because, I grew up in a tiny house and having guests over for the holidays made it seem even smaller. However, my mother always set an elaborate, bountiful holiday table. It didn’t matter how much we had, there was always enough to go around.
The gentleman seated next to me, must have felt it was proper to serve the ladies. A mountain of mashed potatoes he had piled onto my plate left little room for my favorite dishes, candied sweet potatoes, dark turkey meat and cranberry dressing. We still laugh at the memories, try as I might, I could only eat half of what he put on my plate.
My father always tried to teach us to be slow to judge people and things you don’t understand. By sharing what we had with these three travelers, we received so much more in return. We learned people are just people. There are good and bad Russians, just as there are good and bad Americans. I don’t know why these Russians chose to come to our house over any place else they could have dined that Thanksgiving Day. Maybe, they didn’t have any place else to go!
When it’s time to sit down at the Thanksgiving table, I’m going to look at what I’ve served to others throughout this past year. Thanksgiving is a time to be grateful for the lessons I’ve learned and successes I’ve been given. It’s a time to reevaluate and ask, “Have I been gracious to others?” And if I’ve done something distasteful, it may be advantageous to eat a piece of humble pie and dish out some sweet apologies.
Here’s a trinket that may be useful to me when writing children’s stories with life lessons. — It’s not easy to put down our biases, and show respect for all living things, even if we don’t agree with them. So, I’m going to put my energy into trying to create fun and exciting children’s stories and let the life lessons fall where they may. After all, maybe the message of love and forgiveness comes more from the connection children get while snuggling up and reading with a loved one. –Could the next generation become more accepting, kind and compassionate? Maybe my answer to that question, is in the original lyrics, “Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.”
Happy Thanksgiving EVERYONE!