If you look closely, the grey house sitting mountainside on an uneven lot is reverberating. Broken shutters and dirty windows are rattling against the frosty air. It's Thanksgiving in New England.
Walking up the cold stone steps, still damp from last week’s melted snow, you only need to be a few feet away to hear the muffled shouts and shrieks. The doorbell doesn't work, and the metal door requires heavy knocking, but only produces quiet thumps through your gloved hand. A few heavier hits part the noise from inside, incoming footsteps leave you stepping back and straightening your hat. The door swings open and warm colors, smells, and air rush into your nostrils. A smile tightens the wrinkles on your face as you are pulled through the foyer, embrace by embrace. The heavy door is shut behind you, your coat and scarf are ushered away, and you soak, bask, and relax in relationship.
I don't have a framework for Thanksgiving 100 years ago. I don't know what it means to you or what it means to 300 million other people celebrating it this week. But for me, Thanksgiving is a reminder that we are human. It is a reminder that we exist, outside our selves, in something larger than our daily routine.
Everyone wants to belong to something, the need is human of course, and yet we're watching humanity slowly slip (or, better said, swing) towards singularity. We continue to separate and define so many categories, like calloused scientists debating the classification of an insect; I think we slowly end up devaluing what makes us human. Thanksgiving, in my mind, is one of the last great bastions to defend this trend. It fights the massive pressure to define ourselves as an individual.
Of course we are individuals, but we are MORE than that. Community demands, and requires, that we don't live in isolation, deteriorating to a shrunken reflection of humanity. And, like the cold New England afternoon, I feel like I am constantly assaulted, forced to retreat to my individual self, fully and solely reliant on numero uno. I may, as our times expect, function there for a large chunk of my life, obediently putting my nose to the grindstone and forcing my way through the crowd. But on Thanksgiving, I am welcomed back to the land of the living, the warm and inviting embrace of home, family, and community that heals and restores my broken worldview. On Thanksgiving, I walk through the cold and I return to my soul's foundation. It's not the other way around.
I hope we don't lose the game to the clinical dissection of individualism, and maybe that's not something we'll have a hand in, but until that time comes I will continue to enjoy, celebrate, and remember that I am not an island, rather I am human.
You and I are infinitely blessed, and I hope you have a wonderful holiday.