Here in Turkey there is no Thanksgiving Day. At my little hotel-cafe, people I ask don't know what "Thanksgiving" is. "Do you know what Thanksgiving is," I ask. "No," they say, "I never heard of that." Turkey does not know (American) Thanksgiving. Turkey does not do turkey.
Being an American from the States, I know what Thanksgiving is. For me, this holiday brings a multitude of images, thoughts, and feelings. Please bear with me as I process through a few of my thoughts and feelings about Thanksgiving with you...
What comes to the forefront of my mind (especially while I'm in Turkey) is that American culture does not offer daily gratitude practices. There's no "call to prayer" broadcasted over loud speakers throughout our country, offering a reminder, five times a day, to stop what we're doing, to breathe, to tune into something greater than the individual self, connect with the collective, and connect with gratitude. I believe that every and any reason to pull up gratitude is helpful, so for this reason, I think, Thanksgiving is a good thing. "Thanksgiving," I think, "is America's annual opportunity to tap into gratitude."
I am also thinking about the historical American genocide of indigenous peoples and cultures. I've been aware of this history for a bunch of years now. My thoughts and feelings about this horrific and painful reality are especially fast-tracked to the foreground of my mind and heart at Thanksgiving. I don't think I need to explain why this happens, to my American audience. At this point, Americans, I hope, are all aware of why Thanksgiving brings up thoughts and feelings of Indigenous pain and suffering.
This awareness brings me to tears. I don't want to look away from American history for fear of feeling sad. I especially don't want to look away from my thoughts and feelings about this because it's a "happy," celebratory holiday, and therefore, I should not think or talk about unhappy things. I don't want to reinforce white-washing of history. I don't want to forget that history has ongoing, rippling, and deep effects that are currently real for many, many people and non-humans. I very much want to keep moving toward compassionate equity. I very much want to lessen the burden of every generation of life and non-life to come. I am grateful for those of us doing this work.
It's also personal. Opening the door to Grief - sitting with grieving - always drops me back into the room of compassion. And compassion always reacquaints me with gratitude. So, even pain, that I chose to honor on Thanksgiving, brings me to gratitude. Which is what Thanksgiving is about.
When I allow all of my thoughts and feelings to rise up and breathe, I feel I'm getting a richer, more full understanding of "Thanksgiving." I hope sharing my process is filling you up too.
Speaking of more full and filling up... Here I am in Turkey, with no opportunity to cook a Thanksgiving feast to share with family and friends. So, instead of stuffing a turkey, I stuffed myself (late, late last night, into the wee hours of today) with popcorn. I have not slept enough. Now I'm cooked. And I just opened up. And I've spilled my innards with you. Happy Thanksgiving!
For real, though... from the deepest recesses of my heart, thank you for listening.
I appreciate you coming along with me as I travel. I am grateful for your support and friendship.
However you get there, I hope that on this Thanksgiving, your minds open, your bellies fill, and your hearts overflow with gratitude.