Ever notice how, when there’s no internet or working phone or even a calendar, time melts together into a maze of trackless days? Several years ago, my husband Dan and I were in India most of the month of November—speaking, conducting workshops, and researching a book. One evening at dinner, we sat with an American couple who live in Singapore. After the usual small talk, we all started in on our spicy curry and rice.
Tom, the guy from Singapore, picked out a small piece of chicken, held it high, and said, “Happy Thanksgiving!”
Thanksgiving? How could we have forgotten!
“No turkey!” I groused.
“No cranberries or pumpkin pie,” said my husband.
“Or dressing and gravy,” Tom’s wife lamented. “That’s what I miss.”
An Indian man sitting across from us asked, “Is that what American Thanksgiving is? A big feast day?”
We all stopped mid-gripe. Well, no, we said. Of course not. It’s a time when we remember all our blessings and give thanks for them… before we eat.
“But what do you do on Thanksgiving?” the man pressed.
Do? Well, we say a prayer of thanksgiving before we eat. And we… uh… well…
We tried to give the Indians at our table a quick overview of the history of Thanksgiving. You know, pilgrims and Indians—uh…well, native Americans, that is—and their big meal together all those years ago. (Now, of course, we mostly eat with our own families and friends.) But we do take joy in being together. (Well, some watch football.) And we do give thanks. (But not for too long or the food will get cold.)
“Can you not be thankful here?” the man said.
Come to think of it, we most certainly could. And we were. Together with our new friends.
Not a Thanksgiving Day passes, that my mind doesn’t go back to India. And always with a challenge in my heart: What are you going to do?
“Thanksgiving, after all, is a word of action.”
W. J. Cameron