Thanksgiving Day, and the entire long holiday weekend, is traditionally a time for families to come together—giving thanks for a festive meal shared with those we love, and relaxing afterward by watching football or streaming seasonal movies on TV.
This year, however, the celebration may be shadowed for many families by the unsettling events going on around us.
Political arguments, for instance, have always been a part of family get-togethers, and many host families head it off by forbidding talk of politics at the table (usually to the relief of guests). This year, though, the political polarization in the country has become so severe that it has divided families and close friends to a troubling degree.
Outside of our circle of family and friends, we can’t help but be traumatized by the seemingly ceaseless cascade of horrible news breaking out around the country every day. Consider the mass shootings by crazed gunmen that we’ve witnessed in recent months, the terrorist driver mowing down innocent people right here in Manhattan, and the sexual misconduct scandals roiling the worlds of politics, entertainment and the media.
Right now, the world we live in does not feel like a safe and comforting place.
But here we are at Thanksgiving, this most American of holidays that still holds a special place in most of our lives.
We’d like to think that whatever the news brings this weekend, our connection to our families and dear friends will be strengthened by the spirit of the occasion. The story of Thanksgiving, after all, is rooted in the idea of wary adversaries—Native Americans and English settlers—coming together in peace to celebrate a successful harvest in a harsh New England environment.
Maybe this year, while we are saying grace before our turkey dinner, giving thanks to God for what we have, we can offer our prayers for the intention of healing the country. Surely, there can’t be a better place to begin than with our families and friends sitting around the table for a joyful meal.
Perhaps, too, we can extend this prayer at Mass on Sunday as a private petition, and carry it out during the next few weeks as we prepare for the coming of our Lord during Advent.
The Thanksgiving table is a starting point, and it’s a good place to begin the national healing we need at this time.
We’d like to extend to our readers a happy and blessed Thanksgiving.