I hope you had a good Day of Thanks, and that you were able to celebrate with some of your favorite people, people who make you smile and laugh and dream big dreams. We’ve got a little more than a month left in the year and I really want to make it a good one. Today I want to talk a bit about Thanksgiving yesterday and the first Thanksgiving all those years ago. We remember the first Thanksgiving as a time of joining between the Native Americans and Pilgrims who had recently arrived in America. For the Pilgrims this day was a celebration of life and new friends. For the Native Americans they also celebrated new friendships. It’s unfortunate that in the generations following things got really screwed up between the settlers and the large people group they would become. Not only were settlers famous for “gifting” diseases that native populations had no defenses for, they ended up taking land and resources from them. This wasn’t just a problem in America but in all countries that were settled by people from Europe.
It’s sad that what was such a happy event turned into something so challenging and tragic, and it’s sad that we didn’t learn our lesson from it, but people all over the world are still hurting each other without thinking about it or taking the time to consider what might happen if they made such a huge change (no political talk today, promise). We’ve got a long way to go before that’s the default practice, but I have hope that someday we may get there or at least get closer to being more considerate more of the time.
But what I really wanted to talk about today was the amazing gift that the Native Americans gave and what we can learn from their generosity. These people didn’t have to help the Pilgrims as they did. They didn’t have to build the relationships with them that they did. But I think their heritage and culture taught them that it’s the right thing to do and the best way of living, especially if you’re aware of Mother Earth/Mother Nature’s role in your life as many of them were and are still today. These people were willing to give to the Pilgrims without necessarily expecting a lot back, regardless of what the Pilgrims were really able to bring to the table like weapons or knowledge of the world at large.
Today there are still men and women who are giving selflessly of themselves, or giving because they see a need. You’ve probably heard of CNN Heroes and shows like Extreme Home Makeover, not to mention countless service men and women and other men and women, boys and girls who are making a difference around the world without a national stage or recognition. These people are willing to give without knowing if their gift and/or generosity will ever really be appreciated. They’re willing to give because they saw a need and were able to fill it. This weekend as you’re out shopping I encourage you to look for opportunities to give. Maybe it’s a little money in the Salvation Army buckets, maybe it’s a little extra spent on someone special or picking up an extra to donate to a shelter or food/clothing/toy drive. What will you give?