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thanksgiving dinner

North Korea. Hurricanes. Vegas. The Illinois state budget crisis. A seemingly endless stream of controversy emanating from Washington. An even more endless stream of sexual harassment allegations.

Sounds sort of like the 2017 version of “We Didn’t Start the Fire,” right?

It has surely been an emotionally draining 2017. And we still have a whole month left.

That’s why we’re looking forward to taking stock this holiday season – of surrounding ourselves with the ones we love and reflecting on what’s important.  

Such values are significant every Thanksgiving, but they are especially important today, when our country seems so very, very divided over the most basic of ideals about who we are and where want to go.   

We need to come together.

Thanksgiving, after all, is a uniquely American creation not tied to any one religion or even a patriotic lineage. Rather, we incorporate our own traditions. Maybe the same linens or plates are used, year after year, and the same recipe for that candied yams dish with toasted marshmallow topping.

It’s likely your family has some twist. There may be flavors from a mother’s homeland. Your family may pray. Your family may go around the table and require each person to profess what he or she is thankful for, no exceptions.

In that spirit, White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders during her Monday news conference made reporters say what they’re thankful for as a perquisite before asking a question. Most reporters played along. Some said they’re thankful for the First Amendment.

We bring that up because it was another reporter of sorts, Sarah Josepha Hale, who is credited with turning Thanksgiving into a national holiday. She edited “Ladies’ Magazine” starting in the 1820s and mounted an aggressive campaign over the course of decades to expand the holiday out of New England.

It wasn’t until 1863 that Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday in November as a day to give thanks — a decision largely influenced by a need to unify the country following the Civil war.

In other words, Thanksgiving is a holiday rooted in a desire to find common ground. We’d like to keep that tradition going.

We all have a lot to be thankful for. It’s easy to dwell on the frustrations and millions of things that didn’t go quite right.

But we sure can be thankful to have one another.


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