As the Thanksgiving season approaches, I recall holidays of my youth, pies baking in the oven, short drives across the county to Grandma’s house for a multi-generational feast, and returning at night to see the first lights of the winter season in homes and on trees. Years passed, people moved away, and the feast now occurs in a retirement community. The food might not have that same home-cooked flavor as it did in previous years, but ultimately Thanksgiving is about community. The people stay the same, or they change. The spirit of community, however, is solid.
I celebrated Thanksgiving a few times in Niger, with volunteers and our Nigerien counterparts, and while the food tasted different, Nigeriens understood this holiday completely. It is about love and friendship. It is about acknowledging those who are absent from the table, and it is about reaching out to those who lack a table at all.
Tonight I attended a Thanksgiving gathering that began in 2005 in New Orleans, post hurricane Katrina. Turkey and all the fixings were difficult to procure in the aftermath of the storm, but a group of friends gathered regardless, bringing bourbon to drink and whatever food was available. As the city’s faithful collaborated to resurrect community, these friends created a Thanksgiving based on the essentials: not the food but the people. They’ve held this bourbon and pot luck Thanksgiving every year since.
Connect with someone you’ve missed this Thanksgiving. Share a laugh, share a smile. Share community.