Since so many Kidscreen readers are not from the United States, I thought I would take a moment to explain the significance of this holiday that we call, “Thanksgiving.” Though it began with the first pilgrim settlers and the early Native Americans sharing things like maize, butternut squash and tobacco, it has devolved into an annual holiday in which a turkey and multiple side dishes serve as a temporary and ineffective distraction from all the things that we’d prefer not to talk about with our families.
Of all the holidays we celebrate in America, Thanksgiving causes us the most duress. This may be because the amount of time required to cook, eat and digest a turkey can easily take up the entire day, thus wearing down all of our tried and true coping strategies for being around our loved ones. For many of us, the only real escape from Thanksgiving is to eat so much food that our body simply shuts down, giving us the perfect excuse to leave the room and go somewhere quiet and alone to take a nap.
Thanksgiving is also a very deceptive holiday. I’ve observed over the years that the more time and effort a family puts into making their Thanksgiving meal look “perfect,” the more troubles they are likely trying to avoid. The fact is that a symmetrically carved turkey filled with apple-cinnamon stuffing does nothing to help a family communicate better or like one another more.
But Thanksgiving also happens to be one of my favorite holidays. This may have something to do with my passion for Brussels sprouts, which I seem to eat only on Thanksgiving, but it’s also because I have a deep and abiding love for my own rather small and asymmetrical family. The older I get, the more I’ve come to accept, appreciate and enjoy their many idiosyncrasies and the more I’ve come to peace with most of my own.
There is a great lyric in a Leonard Cohen song that speaks to this idea, “There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.” This Thanksgiving, I am thankful for the cracks, the light, and the people in my family and professional life who have stuck with me through both.