I love Thanksgiving because it's an all-inclusive holiday. There is no way to offend someone by wishing them a Happy Thanksgiving, no political correctness involved. On this one day, in the good old USA, everyone is on the same page, celebrating the same thing. I know that not everyone has a turkey feast, and not everyone is able to find a reason to be thankful. But I also know we have enough in this country. More than enough. The problem is in distribution.
I went to Europe when I was 19, with my friend Shauna. We left in the fall, and traveled for three months. It was the first time I had ever been away from home for the Holidays, and it was shocking. Somehow it didn't occur t me that our American Thanksgiving wouldn't overflow across the ocean and find us somewhere in Spain. When we set out in search of our holiday feast that evening, we were met with blank looks and regular menus. As I recall, we settled for a greasy chicken soup with chickpeas, and several bottles of cheap beer. It was an eye-opener. Wow... the whole world isn't like us...
The only other time I've spent Thanksgiving outside the US was two years ago, when Rick and I went to Ethiopia as volunteers. Certainly the local villagers had no concept of our holiday, but the Cunninghams, who were excellent hosts for our journey, make it a tradition to cook a big Thanksgiving feast for all the volunteers each year. Food is bought in Addis Ababa, and transported three hours on bad roads to Project Mercy, where the wonderful cooks on staff assist Noel in preparing the meal. It was wonderful... and also quite unsettling for me.
It was still a school day for the village kids who were lucky enough to attend. Part of the draw to apply for a place in the school is the two meals that are provided each day. A day off from school means a day without food for many of them. I watched those kids line up for their cup of fortified hot cereal and hunk of plain hard bread, knowing they could smell the turkey cooking behind the scenes for us. Talk about a distribution problem... and another eye-opener.
I didn't know how to fix it then, and I still don't know now. I enjoyed my dinner in Ethiopia, and was grateful to have it, but I also came away with a deep, heart-centered wish to work on distribution wherever I can. I can't save the world. Neither can you. But we can do small, and sometimes large things to help. Oh dear... This was not at all what I'd intended to write this morning, but it's what came out, so I'm letting it stay. I don't mean to bring anyone down. I mean to boost you up like a balloon in the Macy's Parade, point out that we have a gifted and glorious life, and encourage all of us to be more grateful than ever for what we have, and to share just a little bit more than usual this season.
Like I said, I love Thanksgiving, and I want everyone to be included. I intend to enjoy my day, my friends, and my food, guilt-free, with gusto and gratitude. I hope you will too. And in the back of our minds, lets all try to come up with ways to fix this Distribution Problem, not from a place of feeling sorry for someone else, but from feeling our own abundance, and sharing our own gifts and talents. That's where we have the most to offer. That's where the real changes start to happen.
Happy Thanksgiving to you all, with Love, from me.
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