What I am truly thankful for

Bonnie Willis's picture

Thanksgiving has to be one of my favorite holidays. I love the beauty of the season, including how the leaves change to such radiant colors.

I love the rich foods — comfort foods — that we give ourselves permission to eat.

I love the slight chill in the air that allows you to snuggle under warm blankets.

But most of all I love the sentiment of the holiday, reflecting on what we are grateful for. I love this American tradition!

This year I had the opportunity to volunteer in my son’s second grade class to read a lesson about the first Thanksgiving.

I was struck by the innocent rendition of the story where basically the Native Americans befriended the greatly suffering Pilgrims, saved them from starvation, and taught them to farm and live off the land.

Together, the Pilgrims and Native Americans celebrated the Pilgrim’s first harvest with a feast that we’ve come to know as Thanksgiving.

Then it struck me that even in this holiday that is filled with good will, there is a stark contrast in how we are taught the traditions of Thanksgiving, for I recall learning about the first English settlers as a starving group who took advantage of the Native Americans, brought disease, violence, and took their lands.

All we need to do is look at the living conditions of many Native American tribes today to know that some kind of injustice has taken place among a noble people.

That being said, it is still good to celebrate the humble beginnings of our first harvest season, realizing that without the providence of God, and our Native American friends, the Pilgrims and the America we love may have not survived.

So, this Thanksgiving in addition to the things that I am perpetually thankful for — like my husband, my children, my family, my health, and our country’s rich history and traditions — I am grateful for God’s provision, and I am particularly grateful to those who sacrifice to protect and preserve our nation today — our U.S. military.

This group of men and women are heroes because they put their faith in our country into action. As a whole, they represent the very best of who we are as a country. They are constant reminders that we are called to be a force for good on this earth.

In the end, I know there will always be things that one could complain about — personal, emotional, social, political, and economic, for example. Such is life, but I am so grateful for a holiday that reminds us that despite the things we may be concerned with, we truly have a lot to be thankful for.

[Bonnie B. Willis is co-founder of The Willis Group, LLC, a Learning, Development, and Life Coaching company here in Fayette County and lives in Fayetteville along with her husband and their five children.]