Tomorrow is that blessed holiday called Thanksgiving where in school they teach us that the pilgrims (or shunned and prosecuted people from England who in turn prosecuted and shunned others) came together with the Native Americans (or more correctly, Native Indians) for a nice meal of turkey, mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce. When in reality, the food was cheap amounts of money given to them in order to buy off their land and massacre an entire people. But who wants the real story when you can have the pretend ones, that make you want to make a turkey from an outline of your hand and list the things you’re thankful for?
I suppose that that idea of Thanksgiving has changed though. Maybe not in children, but in my mind, obviously. Now it’s a time to be with family and although we would all like to believe that at some point the pilgrims and Native Indians were friends, the outcome is still the same and history doesn’t lie. We just have to face the facts.
But now what has Thanksgiving become? A day to be gluttonous and sleep to just get up early the next day and splurge all your money on gifts for Christmas? Man, it just goes from one extreme to the other, doesn’t it?
An old, former friend of mine use to tell me that there was a war on Christmas. I laugh every time I think of it. He said there was a war on Christmas because people forgot the “reason for the season.” He was also a Bush-loving Republican (no disrespect) who thought that everyone should be Christian and that being anything else was not an option, although he was the most dishonest and deceitful person I’ve ever met. Anyway, his ideas mimic that of many other people who believe that in order to celebrate Christmas, you have to be Christian. And all I can say is that there’s a history of Christmas and paganism that stares everyone in the face, but no one wants to acknowledge it. Let’s just be clear here and say that Jesus, Mary and Joseph did not have a Christmas tree. Neither did the 12 Apostles after Jesus died for our sins. That’s if you believe in him. No hard feelings if you don’t.
But I do appreciate the fact that people are making Thanksgiving a time for food donations, volunteer opportunities and a time for actually being thankful for everything they have. Yesterday, here at Christopher House we packed vans for our five different sites with bags of food that were going to feed over 400 families. Isn’t that amazing? All of these families are low-income families who are underrepresented in the community and send their child or children to daycare/preschool/early childhood programs here at the House. To see people carry of turkeys and food, knowing that they will have a full thanksgiving is heart warming. Christopher House does work like this all year around for their families. But mainly, the work done is for the children first and foremost.
These are the times, with this economy and world, where you should be extremely thankful for having jobs, families, support, money, everything! But at the same time, sharing the love and the support you have with other people may be exactly what is needed in both you and the person you “help.”
This morning I heard a man speaking to the clerk at 7-eleven, explaining that he didn’t know if he was going to get paid this week and he was worried. He talked about how he and his co-worker had no idea if the boss was going to come in or when exactly they would have money to pay for things. I didn’t know what I could have done, besides asking for the boss-man’s number and asking directly for him, but I’m sure being able to talk about it helped him. It might have also increased his worry. Nonetheless, it’s times like those that I want to do something but I don’t exactly know what. I feel so terrible that there are people suffering and I want to do something about it.
Because Christopher House also offers mentoring to high school students, I’ve decided to take on the job of being a mentor. I feel that if I can at least influence one person in their lives and how they go about thinking of things, I can make a difference and it’ll all be worthwhile. Especially since I won’t be a “teacher” or a parent. Whew! I’d rather be a friend anyway and be the person to explain college, writing and the importance of going to school to someone. I get excited thinking about those things.
I digress… So it’s up to you to take the time and make something of this Thanksgiving. Be thankful to those around you, friends and family; be grateful for the delicious food tomorrow and make a turkey out of construction paper and hang it on the fridge. I know I will.
To fight hunger in the US, visit Feeding America.
To find a place to volunteer or find a food pantry visit FoodPantries.org.