Many years ago, I used to own and manage a horticulture business. Our operations would generally peak right around this time of year. To help with the Christmas tree and holiday wreath production season, I would find myself spending much of the fall up in Nova Scotia, Canada.
While up there on a particularly chilly day I recall being asked why Thanksgiving held such an importance for Americans by a puzzled colleague and dear friend, Pat. He noted that Canadians have Thanksgiving also but because of earlier growing seasons it took place a month earlier; he also brought up the peculiarity that Americans took the day off to celebrate with family and friends.
Attempting to share the cheer and spirit of the day, I explained to Pat what Thanksgiving means to me:
-Thanksgiving can be a holiday for everyone, despite one’s religion, ethnicity, or cultural background.
-It is a celebration we can all share, and more recently make our own.
-On top of all it is tied to a traditional harvest festival, deeply connecting us to the abundance and nourishment nature provides.
Instead of focusing on the historically painful origin stories, I wanted to impart upon Pat the values of generosity, gratitude, and the miracles of sharing a harvest that embodies Thanksgiving for me.
For someone who enjoys a good celebration and cooking for a crowd, I am feeling acutely disappointed in not having my friends and family all in one place, at one table this year. Unfortunately, two out of my three children are staying home in their separate parts of the country and can not join me for Thanksgiving. In accordance with the Vermont Health Commissioner, I will only be celebrating with the one son who lives here in Vermont.
As we celebrate Thanksgiving, we will cook together, share stories and cherish and love the food we are so lucky to receive from our farmers and friends. The highlight of the day will be a long walk with them out on our farm connecting deeply with the miracle of nature and her care for us all. More importantly though, throughout the day, I will be making sure to give my thanks for the essential workers, my family, health, adaptability, to give acknowledgment to the wisdom of past generations and cultures that came before us, and to take comfort in the company of the few people that I can be with.
I wish each of you a sweet and nourishing Thanksgiving, however you choose to celebrate. I hope this time next year we can share our tables surrounded by, maybe even overflowing with, family and friends.
With fondness and gratitude,