Next week, we pause to celebrate another Thanksgiving. While the meaning of Thanksgiving has always made it a special holiday, this year with the state of our national economy — many Americans having lost their jobs, homes, businesses, even hope — makes the celebration all the more special.
As we gather with family and friends, perhaps with a less-bountiful table, it is still a great time to find some lasting meaning that will carry us to new heights of understanding, appreciation as we relate to our loved ones, our neighbors, and the larger community in which we are a part.
Staying positive and hopeful is so important, especially during these trying times for our families and our nation.
Thanksgiving is just the beginning of our most treasured holiday season, culminating with the celebration of a New Year. Traditionally, it is a time for shopping, feasting, partying, and much merriment. For some, it is the beginning of the most joyous time of the year, with all the decorations and holiday signs — one happy event after the other.
As tough as it is on the economic and political fronts, it can still be a time for celebration but also a time to stop, reflect, and regain our resolve to keep moving forward in whatever way we can irrespective of the conditions in which we find ourselves. It is definitely the time to keep in our individual and collective conscience the age-old adage, “Hope reigns eternal.”
While we are hopeful, we must reach out to others to help them regain or remain hopeful. During these tough times, we cannot minimize that for some, it is the beginning of a stressful time, even depressive time for any number of reasons. This has been true during the best of economic times.
While many of us may be fortunate enough to be in a position to enjoy Thanksgiving and all of its trappings with family and friends, there are those who see little to celebrate and have even less with which to celebrate. For them, Thanksgiving is only the beginning of a dreaded time — a season filled with reminders of families that were, wish lists that remain unfilled, and dreams that always seem beyond one’s reach.
How good it would be if we could just remember and impart that, too often, much of this “state of want” or “painful emptiness” has nothing to do with money or other material things. Instead, it has more to do with how one views life and his or her purpose in it. Too often, we let our well-being be determined by unimportant and fleeting things. Consequently, our sense of self-worth and the value we bring to those around us and the community in which we are a part gets lost, and we suffer immeasurably — in ways that are not always obvious.
If we take time to reflect on our world both near and afar, we all see the signs and the toll certain life styles and misplaced emphasis have taken on the human spirit. Sadly, we witness, all too-often, unprecedented acts of violence by young and old alike, by the materially well off and the not-so-well off, by the sane and the not so sane. Unspeakable acts of violence in often what we thought were the most secure and sacred of places — our homes, our churches, our schools, even day care centers.
If we have been fortunate enough to escape physical violence or its effect on someone we know, many of us have been violated and injured, even killed metaphorically by corporate zealots and crooks that use greed as their weapon and rob us of the resources that we need and that are rightfully ours.
If we bothered to reflect on the state of the human condition in our supposedly advanced society, we would have even more to be concerned about when we really look at the entire picture. When we discover how little progress we have truly made in some of the most important areas; it should give us pause. Whether it is in the area of ensuring that every American has an equal chance to pursue their American dream, advancing race relations, building healthy family units, eradicating hunger here in the United States and abroad, eliminating homelessness, reducing drug and substance abuse — the list goes on.
While we, as a nation, as a city, as a community, or as a family unit, undoubtedly have a lot to be thankful for and lots to celebrate this Thanksgiving, we need to keep in mind how far we have yet to go in a number of areas to advance the overall well-being of humankind, no matter how tough it might seem, or actually might be for us today.
Often, one of the best ways to improve our personal condition is to look beyond it to the condition of someone else whether it is in our home, our neighborhood, our schools, or some other corner of our immediate or global community.
As bad as it may seem, it can always be worse. Make this a very special Thanksgiving with meaning, meaning that will last this entire Holiday Season and beyond.