On This Thanksgiving, Are All Welcome Here?

On This Thanksgiving, Are All Welcome Here?

The United States’ celebration of THANKSGIVING is rather unique, though Canada also celebrates a Thanksgiving Day in October. But ours is firmly planted on the fourth Thursday in November, due to a joint resolution of Congress signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1941.

The day was set aside to remind us of our bountiful beginnings in this new world and the gratitude felt by the early settlers for a plentiful harvest. A celebration took place in Plymouth, Massachusetts and tradition states that Chief Massasoit and his Wampanoag tribe of Native Americans brought deer meat to share with the English settlers. Corn, shellfish and some other roasted meats completed the celebratory meal. All participants could look from the bluffs of the New Land to the vast ocean beyond and just wonder at the power and beauty surrounding them. All were welcome at that feast.

Similarly, when Marty Haugen wrote his famous hymn All Our Welcome (Let Us Build A House) there were times when in some churches the words coming from the pulpit were not inclusive. ALL were not welcome. Thankfully, that is changing because of openness in the hearts of many people, a deeper understanding of differences and a desire to share. Most wanted the change and believed in the change. They desired that the words to Haugen’s hymn would truly have meaning. And now in many churches and congregations all are truly welcomed.

But this Thanksgiving, when we gather with our families, there will still be people working to bring food to our Thanksgiving tables or clean our homes or care for our children and our gardens who don’t always feel welcome. They desire and need a pathway to come out of the shadows. It’s more change to get our heads around, but it needs to happen.

And I propose a test. Why not reread the words on the Statue of Liberty: Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door! With hearts and minds open to understanding, we can all acknowledge that we are a country of immigrants and that living by the words on mighty Liberty make us one and make us proud.

Let’s realize that the diversity of peoples in our country is what makes it strong and unique. When we do that, Thanksgiving Day will have the meaning it should have. My immigrant ancestors came from Germany but I bear no special privileges. Instead, I am totally grateful for my life in this country—grateful to my great-grandparents for making an arduous journey, grateful to my parents for loving, caring and educating me and grateful to the United States for the freedom that it still provides.

This year on Thanksgiving why not share some story of your ancestry—reach back and remember how you came to be celebrating Thanksgiving, a unique and special holiday. And remember to reach out to your family and friends. The treasures of life are not in some store that is staying open on a national holiday—the treasures are in the eyes of those you love and the hands you hold. The treasure lies with those who sacrificed so that all could be welcome in this land of thanksgiving.

THANKS TO GOOGLE IMAGES On This Thanksgiving, Are All Welcome Here?On This Thanksgiving, Are All Welcome Here?

12 thoughts on “On This Thanksgiving, Are All Welcome Here?

  1. When I lived in New York and spent long weeks on the road seeing clients, I would always welcome the sight of the Statue Of Liberty, as my plane negotiated its way back to the airport. Such a magnificent monument, and Boomer Highway has given me a fresh impression of all that it stands for…..THANKS……..Bill

    • Bill, you are great. Thanks for your comment. It must be a wonderful sight, especially when one is coming back from another country. Beth

  2. Hi Beth! Yes isn’t it strange that we’ve collectively seem to have forgotten that our ancestors were once the tired, poor, and huddled masses yearning to breathe free? I think all of us are at our best when we share the good that we have with others less fortunate. I love how you say, “remember to reach out to your family and friends. The treasures of life are not in some store that is staying open on a national holiday—the treasures are in the eyes of those you love and the hands you hold.” Thank YOU for these thoughts. ~Kathy

    • Kathy, THANK YOU. It’s wonderful to get a comment like yours that feels like a warm hug. Happy Thanksgiving, Kathy, and I hope you
      have lots of treasure on that day. Beth

  3. Thanks for your powerful post and reminder to have an inclusive Thanksgiving. I really hate the commercial Christmas creep that has invaded this holiday of gratitude.

    • THANK YOU, Connie. Your comment is so welcome. Hope you find lots of family treasure around your table, Beth

  4. I have immigrant relatives from Germany, too (Salicia sp? area). Also from Scotland, France, Netherlands, and England. Thanks for the invitation to think of immigrant ancestors this Thanksgiving season.

    • Hi Karen,
      Your background makes you strong. Such a wonderful gathering of peoples. Thanks for the comment and wishing you a thankful Thanksgiving. Beth

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