Thanksgiving Travel Reflections


The leaves are changing and falling, pumpkins and squashes and cornucopias work their way into the front porch scene, and days get shorter as the warm weather fades to frost. Autumn is in full swing as winter quickly approaches. But while Santas and holiday toys invade the department storefront windows, let’s not forget about an often overlooked holiday: Thanksgiving.

“Wait, Thanksgiving? I celebrate that every year?!” you might be screaming at the computer right now. It’s understood people annually celebrate Thanksgiving by taking the day to appreciate freedom, our families, and everything great in our lives. But I think the give and take from the courageous pilgrims and welcoming Indians we grew up learning gets erased by years of pumpkin pie, turkey, and football memories. Let’s take a moment to think about what actually was required of the explorers and the Native Americans and what we can gain from it.

Columbus and those to follow in Plymouth at the first Thanksgiving needed tremendous courage. Starting by exploring the unknown, Columbus opposed authority and common belief and chanced death to explore a new, but perhaps nonexistent place for the pride of his country’s name. The pilgrims also displayed courage by going into unfamiliar lands and climates with a can-do-attitude before the days of gps systems, translators, and other travel products. They ended up needing a little help, but that courage and ignorance to accepted truths is the reason America and Canada exist today.

New cultures, language barriers, and the situation at hand required copious amounts of humility from both sides of the first Thanksgiving. The pilgrims, starving and clueless of the surroundings, had to acknowledge the really needed help and become independent on the less industrialized natives. On the other side, the Indians were completely open to understanding the foreigners and helping them through the winter. I’m sure they had their own things to accomplish before winter hit, and they generously took the time to help those in need.

In today’s society, these two ideas have fallen away from the primary focus of Thanksgiving. There are many opportunities to come together as a family throughout the year, but the ideas associated with the Thanksgiving story are unique and should be celebrated. I’m not saying you should rebel against authority, but don’t be afraid to go somewhere new with an emphasis on getting to know the people there without worry of who or what you know of the destination. Assume the humility of the Indians and take time to learn and understand what the locals are about, their values, and what inspires them. After the trip, I think you’ll look back on it and be much more thankful than imagined.

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