Thanksgiving – A Time to Reflect

The classrooms have been filled with construction paper (brown, orange, red, and other hues of fall colors) scissors, and glue and children are making turkeys, Pilgrim hats and figures, "Indian" headdresses and figures, and other symbols of Thanksgiving culture. Stories will be told in school about how the Indigenous people of North America (Native Americans) shared their harvest feast with the starving English settlers.

Dinner tables will be filled with turkey, dressing, cranberry sauce, yams and pumpkin pie -- traditional foods for our cultural day of giving thanks. At the first Thanksgiving feast, the Native Americans and the English settlers ate turkey, waterfowl, venison, fish, lobster, clams, berries, fruit, pumpkin, and squash.

For the Wampanog tribe, the purpose of the harvest feast was to give thanks for the bounty of food that the growing season had produced -- for the rain and the sunshine which caused the plants that bore the food to grow. Giving thanks is integral to the Native American culture. The harvest celebrations allow a time to reflect on being thankful, to be with family, and to count blessings.

Thanksgiving has its roots in Native American culture, not European culture. Consider that the Wampanoags were caring people who lent a hand to the settlers who were, at the time, less fortunate. They were the heroes. The holiday and celebration belonged to them, not the Pilgrims. Yet somehow this has become lost.

Did you know that the day after Thanksgiving is designated as our country's official day to pay homage to Native American heritage and culture? Somehow, this too has become lost. Black Friday (and now Gray Thursday) morphed into the official kickoff of the "holiday" shopping season where we pay homage to retail.

As I’m writing, I sit looking out the window on a grey autumn day watching both leaves and rain fall. I remember the conversation I had with a Native American gentleman two summers ago. “We should celebrate the rain. It’s the source of food.”

As the year draws to a close, take some time to reflect and pay homage to the things that are important. Reflect on accomplishments and celebrate successes in your organization. Give thanks to the people who made those successes happen. Reflect on your own organizations culture -- it traditions and celebrations. Review the past, look to the future and take some time to just be!

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