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The Thanksgiving Table

Thanksgiving should receive its due. Before marketers and businesses reduced Thanksgiving to a financial milestone on the way to Christmas profits, the holiday was its own day, its own weekend. At least for me. I still honor it that way. These were the days when the day after Thanksgiving was known as the day after Thanksgiving. As a boy, it was a blissful four days away from school. To play football. To eat the delicious food of family recipes used once a year. To be still for a while in the barren landscape of muddy, harvested fields and feel the sharp autumn wind scrape my cheeks. To pile up leftover turkey on bread with cheese, lettuce and salt.

All of this stays with me during my Thanksgiving celebrations. I’ve always thought Thanksgiving lacks a soundtrack, though. What music do you play at Thanksgiving? I discovered a long-running Thanksgiving program from John Birge of Minnesota Public Radio, Giving Thanks: A celebration of fall, food & gratitude. What a fantastic assortment of music, storytelling and contemplation that truly honors Thanksgiving.

It’s now a Thanksgiving tradition for me that will start in early November. One of my favorite segments seems to appear every year – Charles Laughton’s reading from Jack Kerouac’s The Dharma Bums, Psalm 104 and his story about Chartres Cathedral in France.

There’s power in discussing gratitude, in hearing what others are grateful for, in confirming what I’m grateful for. This spirit, like Christmas, goes far beyond one day of the year.


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