Friends and relatives around he world sing the same song: “We don’t have Thanksgiving here.” Here is New Zealand, South Africa, England, Israel…and on and on. This year, because we are down to three of us—my guardian angel/chef and one friend who lives alone—I stopped to think about what that means.
“We don’t have Thanksgiving here.”
I’m confined to the house and have been for five years, so I often think about things too carefully.
This time, my thoughts centered around why every day isn’t Thanksgiving. It is for me. I couldn’t survive without a daily listing of the things and people for which I am grateful and of the traditions we have made out own. Every year, we give a turkey to the homeless. There have been years when that means we don’t have one. We give them on other days, too, but there’s something special for me giving one on Thanksgiving Day. Does giving a turkey mean I am an American? I don’t think so. Why can’t those expats do the same thing? I don’t know because I’ve never asked.
How about we each start a tradition and pass it along to countries that “Don’t have Thanksgiving.”
I’m proud to say I did it, inadvertently, some twenty years ago.
I was working three jobs, which included part time teaching at two universities. I was teaching communications, a required course to enter the MS program.
Some weeks before Thanksgiving, the pleading began for the Wednesday before to be a day off. Growing tired of the song, I came up with an idea. Each student had to find a homeless or lonely person, e.g. someone eating turkey and mash at Denney’s, and invite that person to join their dinner at home. If the invitation was refused, the alternative was an invitation to eat together at a coffee shop. Just the two of them. They had to write essays about the experience. Long ones. Detailed ones.
After the groan, there was common acceptance.
The resulting essays were astounding.
I’m told that the exercise has become a required part of the course on all campuses. Better yet, I’ve heard from many student that they lobbied for it at other schools.
Why do I tell you this? Because it makes me feel good and because it’s so simple to implement. Doesn’t have to be turkey. Doesn’t have to be in English.
Looking ahead, here’s one for Hannukah. I used to make each of my kids wrap at least eight of their own toys, no matter how big or small. A book, a marble, a truck. They had to add to the eight for any gift they received. I drove them to a homeless shelter and an orphanage where they dropped them off. Today their children and their children’s friends do the same thing. The world sucks. Why not make it a tiny bit better.
For now, Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.