A Hope-Filled Thanksgiving

This weekend was a rare opportunity for me to take some CulturTwining initiative, introducing a cultural tradition to my friends by hosting an event in my home. My housemate and I invited a bunch of friends over for… a Thanksgiving party!

Thanksgiving is, I think, the part of my U.S. heritage of which I am most proud! Well, Thanksgiving and chocolate chip cookies.

We transformed our little flat into a fountain of gratitude as we ate traditional American Thanksgiving dishes in finger food version (sweet potato balls, green bean casserole pastries, stuffing in muffin tins, baby pies, and so on and so forth) and enjoyed each other’s company.

Because many had asked me about the history of Thanksgiving, what the holiday is all about and why Americans celebrate it and why we celebrate it at the end of November, I subjected guests to Charlie Brown’s This is America: The Mayflower Voyagers, which tells the story the way I remember it from when I was a kid, with pilgrims struggling to survive and getting help from the natives, marked by cooperation and gratitude for survival. I love that story and I love that we use that story to remind ourselves to be grateful for the good things in our lives.

In addition, we covered one of our walls with paper and asked each guest to write what they were grateful for. I loved watching the wall fill up over the course of the day, and the positive feeling that came with the act of writing our gratitude. I was told that writing it down was a more culturally-appropriate activity than the traditional go-around-the-table-and-share-what-we’re-thankful-for, as Brits don’t like being put on the spot to share positive things. But when the pressure’s off, writing at their leisure when no one is looking, they find it easier to be honest and positive. We had around 30 guests and each wrote something, so I’ll just share a few particularly interesting ones here…

“God’s love, even helping enemies become friends”

“Lots of lovely supportive friends”

“I’m not being clever but I’m grateful for all the things I can’t say out loud”

“Friends… Food… Laughs… Smiles”

“For friends and family all over the world”

“The father heart of God”

“Health”… then someone else: “I second that”

And me? I second all of those. And I’m thankful that I had such wonderful friends to celebrate my favourite American holiday with.

I guess it’s time to start thinking about Christmas now.

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