My former colleague and (current) friend Jamie Lynch always said that Thanksgiving was his favorite holiday of all. "You eat well, you spend time together with family and friends, and there is no stress about giving gifts", he put it shortly yet so clearly. I celebrated several Thanksgiving dinners with Jamie and our colleagues at The American University of Rome and remember all of them - as I do the one Thanksgiving weekend I spent with my American family in Federal Way, WA - very fondly. Thanksgiving is an American celebration where families and friends come together to give thanks for the basic necessities God has granted and to tell loved ones how important they are. It is not about abundance of material, superficial things, but rather appreciating the simple, necessary things in life: food, shelter and affection. For a man can live without an iPhone or a parfume (typical holiday gifts), but he suffers tremendously without food, shelter and love.
There is not much to be commercialized about being loved or saying thanks, and I suppose that is why Europe has not adopted this holiday or even the concept of giving thanks. We have, however, adopted Black Friday, full of discounts and mad shopping. And Halloween and San Valentine's Day, along with other international festivities where things can be sold to us.
Wouldn't it be nice to just spend time with family and friends and, at least once a year, sit down and think about all the blessings we have in our lives? Have a nice meal, sit in front of a fireplace and play boardgames? That is why I have continued celebrating Thanksgiving with my family, every year, the fourth Thursday of November. I love this tradition and would like to keep it going always. But even more so, it would be incredible to remember to count my blessings every single day of the year.