This year, in view of world events, some families in my circle of friends and in my neighborhood are finding it difficult to gear up for Thanksgiving. There are good reasons to feel a storm of different emotions, and to feel those emotions deeply, but thankfulness does not appear at the top of many lists in 2015. These are troubled times.
It’s hard to plan a day known for its excesses when too many go hungry. It’s hard to welcome friends and family from afar when news reports are full of stories of those who are homeless and seeking shelter. Even the weather is painfully uncertain. Politically, the divisiveness only seems to be ramping up. United? On any subject? Well, no. It’s difficult to join hands, give thanks and celebrate when world events seem to be pointing in a direction that calls for anything but celebration.
That’s one of the reasons that Seth Godin’s suggestion of a new tradition for these times is such a breath of fresh air and hopefulness. It’s food for the spirit, designed to accompany the traditional food for the body in American homes.
If you don’t know Seth Godin, you can read his insightful, pithy blog at sethgodin.typepad.com. If you are acquainted with Seth, you’ll know that his posts ramble from business topics to social concerns, from education to work ethics, from creativity to competence, with a lot of unexpected stops to consider unexpected topics along the way. He never fails to make a reader think.
This year, he has a great idea.
It’s a simple one. The Thanksgiving Reader is a downloadable little book, designed to be shared around the Thanksgiving table, one reader at a time. The idea is that lots of different families will be sharing some of the same thoughts, thinking on some of the same things, reaffirming togetherness and the ways in which we are all alike on this holiday. It is a way to restore the dual concepts of thanks and of giving, by sharing inspiration, connecting with one another, and contemplating “the essence of what we celebrate.”
The readings are simple, thought-provoking, profound, and short. Two are designed as responsive readings for two people. There is one paragraph to be read together at the beginning of the ceremony, and another for the end. That’s all. But it will be memorable.
As Seth Godin explains, by passing out these readings and earmarking only 10 or 15 minutes to read them aloud as a part of your own celebration, you will be joining millions of people around the world who will be, for once, “in sync, together, and a force for gratitude.”
At my table, this will become a new Thanksgiving tradition. What about at yours?
Tomorrow, I’ll share some tips on keeping the celebration simple this year.