The midterms are over. As the election frenzy wanes, for Americans, another busy season is just around the corner – the holidays. And kicking off the season in style, as usual, is Thanksgiving.
Interestingly, this is the most popular non-religious holiday instituted by the state. Fitting, as The Pilgrims established America as a refuge from religious persecution on the Continent. In 1863, President Lincoln urged Americans to put aside the last Thursday of November as "a day of Thanksgiving." Three years later, Congress declared it a national holiday.
For over a century and a half, Americans have returned home to their families to celebrate the many blessings of the year that's coming to a close. Though few are facing the harsh conditions and scope of challenges faced by the Pilgrims, Thanksgiving has gained significance and importance through the years.
Indeed, reflection and gratitude are the need of the hour. The unprecedented pandemic and the Ukraine war have given the world reasons to worry. America is increasingly polarized along the lines of politics and ideologies. The deep divisions in the country have unsettled many. Moderate voices and middle paths have been sidelined to prove the other wrong.
Fortunately, many see Thanksgiving as a wonderful opportunity to shake off the lingering euphoria or gloom of the recently concluded elections and foster a sense of cordiality. In a recent TIPP Poll, we asked 1359 American adults, "When you get together with friends and family for Thanksgiving, would you..."
- 22% - Talk about politics
- 50% - Try to avoid talking about politics
- 18% - Not applicable
- 9% - Not sure
The numbers speak for themselves. Little more than a fifth want to spend time talking politics with family. Half do not consider it an acceptable or necessary topic for the holiday.
Propriety and manners have always dictated that politics and religion be kept away, especially at family functions, where members of diverse views get together. Thanksgiving, especially this year, could be the time to focus on the multicolored, multicultural, multiethnic fabric of America that makes this country great. Compassion and tolerance could once again be given a chance to mend the tattered fabric of American society.
Also, it would be wise to acknowledge that either extreme is detrimental to progress. Society is a dynamic body that grows with the give-and-take of complimentary and opposing views. One cannot thrive without the other.
The two holidays that bookend the 'holiday season' themselves are so distinct. Unlike Christmas, Thanksgiving is not about decorations and gift-giving. It is a time to reflect, rejoice in the gifts received, and express gratitude for the same. And that gratitude is not confined to material gifts. Much of Thanksgiving is a celebration of things money cannot buy - family, friends, health, and happiness. When many find it challenging to make ends meet, the true spirit of Thanksgiving should give one pause to reflect.
Money may be short, yet, there is much to be thankful for - fruits of labor and providence, familial bonds and deep friendships, health, and hope. Not to be found in a store, these are rewards for those who courageously put their best foot forward even when the future is uncertain, as The Pilgrims did centuries ago.
Following in the footsteps of America's forefathers and great statesmen who understood the power of gratitude, the holiday continues to bring people together in gratitude and hope.
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