The meaning of thankfulness has always come in layered lessons to me over the years, and seemed to be more prevalent during this holiday triggered by its obvious focus. They also came in through memories that look back through the many years of life experiences.
The depth behind the meaning of the saying thank you in my native language conveys a poignancy of gratefulness which not only expresses gratitude, but the divine’s blessing on the person.
Within true Thanksgiving, the heart is humbled but there is also active expression.
We see this personified as many of us reach out to others who are in need in our community and give of our means and service. It is our way of realizing what we have, feeling grateful and wanting to give back to express that gratefulness. That is an appropriate and wonderful way to express Thanksgiving.
However, the lesson for me this year built on some thankfulness lessons of before surrounds family and loved ones. I am acutely aware of those who are no longer at the table to enjoy the family feast. No longer is the the kitchen filled with the smells of foods being cooked by my island grandmothers. No longer do I see my grandfather and my dad sitting watching a football game on TV and arguing about politics. On both my father’s and mother’s sides of the families, no longer are many uncles, aunts, cousins filling their plates with food and filling the air with their happy voices.
All of them now are simply treasured memories that dance in my head as I reflect in thankfulness for having known them and having loved them. They are the reason I am here. They are the reason I have a family legacy. They are the reason I can pass down a heritage to the new ones at our table, who never met them but need to know them.
So part of Thanksgiving is family giving…passing the legacy of those who have gone before us to the newest generations. It is more than just eating the traditional turkey and fixings. It is pausing to thank our family who went before us for who, where, and what we are today. It is living our lives in such a way to honor them.
So wherever we are giving thanks this holiday , remember there are so many present around the table around you reaching generations back.
Si Yu’us Ma’ase…
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