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When talking Thanksgiving, turkey comes quickly to mind.
But Thanksgiving is about much more than a cooked bird as the centerpiece of a feast.
It’s more than the feast altogether.
For many of us, what matters is the reason for the holiday.
We’re taught in elementary school that pilgrims, who came to what evolved into the United States of America, held the first Thanksgiving with American Indians, as a way to celebrate the fall harvest (their preparations for the winter ahead) and thank the Lord God Almighty for what he had provided, including their new homeland.
Their thanks was heartfelt. They had received a bounty, but not without hard work and extreme and difficult struggles with weather, disease and other challenges.
One day they might have wondered how they’d make it through, and the next day they realized that they had.
Since last year’s Thanksgiving, people in Ketchikan and throughout Alaska have had challenges of all varieties and seriousness. We’ve walked through them because we didn’t have a choice. There was no going around them.
It’s proceeding through these situations, as did the pilgrims, that reminds us to be thankful. Thankful for the goodness and kindness in communities like Ketchikan, where it isn’t too far beyond reality to say that everyone knows everyone. The thoughtfulness and prayers of the people — one for another no matter how well we know each other —encourage us.
And as we receive that encouragement, we vow to pass it on.
Everybody has challenges. All of us need support, need each other. When we encounter — or even rush past — others, we often don’t know what they are going through; perhaps a smile, a hug, a kind word, a generous gesture makes their way a little bit easier. And we can give these without knowing the particulars of their struggles.
Regardless of what our year has brought, we can all be thankful and express it. It not only does wonders for others to receive our thankful words, but it does us good to express the sentiments. In that way, we all have something we can do for another, despite even the poorest or most wretched circumstances.
This thankful attitude — making an assessment of what we have for which we can give thanks — gives us hope, reduces anxiety and eliminates worry. It makes it possible to take the next step, and the next.
This Thanksgiving Day, we give thanks for Alaska, Ketchikan and their people. We’re in this place together, riding the waves of life. Through it all, we can find reasons to be thankful.
And we have. We’re very thankful.
Happy Thanksgiving Day to all!