Thursday, November 27, 2008
Thanksgiving is more than parades, turkey and football. It's part of how we use myth and ritual to understand our origins as Americans. There are as many ways to celebrate as there are individual cultures and segments. In New York City, of course there's the ritual Macys Parade. Ancient American Indians even celebrated a harvest-end ritual. The Jews observe Sukkoth. Romans gave thanks to Ceres, Goddess of fertility. On Kaho'olawe, a tiny island in the rainshadow of Maui's Haleakala, native Hawaiians awake to a conch shell moaning in the new day. They give thanks to Pele and other Hawaiian deities for the blessings to their Ohana.
Here's another way to celebrate with family: as dinner progresses, go around the table saying one thing we're thankful for about family members to one's left and right. This exercise may be revealing, and fun. It could also unearth a few long-lost secrets that become family lore.
In any case, whether we're a small, close-knit group or a large, far-flung, geographically challenged family, there are ways to acknowledge each other, and give thanks together.