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The Evolution of A Holiday

Few occasions bear the mark of the times the way that Thanksgiving does. For the most part, gone are the myths of a peaceable feast among generous indigenous and noble settlers. As that story has been debunked, we have been left to find our own meeting in this time of gathering, which came to be a national holiday during the Civil War, when it was thought that such a time would bring a weary, war-torn nation together. As the Atlantic Magazine has noted in a series of articles, it is hard to remain ignorant of the ominous roots of this occasion.

For some, now, the day has become more about gathering with family, blood or chosen—or simply with good company. Friendsgiving is a new way many chose to brand it. Gathering, though, in good company is of increasing importance and customs and fancy cooking less and less so for many. And gratitude has become another focus.

What is it that you would wish to pass on from your legacy on this day? Perhaps it is a treasurer recipe or a family story or a game that is always watched or played. Perhaps it is just the continuity of relationship, passing from generation to generation. In these very busy times when people have less and less time to gather and relax, perhaps the beauty in this day is in its pace and flow, different from that of other days. Perhaps the time to savor and appreciate is what is of value. In a time with so much change, it is hard sometimes to conceive of what will have staying power. I wonder as I prepare the stuffing which I will use very early tomorrow morning, as I mash the sweet potatoes, whether this holiday will be around in a few generations and if so, what it will have evolved into being.

The loss of myths grounded in a dangerous lack of reality is good. And yet so is family, gathering, friendship, and shared food.

May you find your own peace and meaning in this day.

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