Location: Wadena, Minnesota
Thanksgiving never used to be my favorite holiday. As an adult I appreciate all that the holiday and its traditions mean but as a kid it didn’t mean as much. We always did the same thing- we went up to my grandparents’ house in little Wadena, Minnesota, gorged our faces, went to the Elementary school to browse the Christmas fair, or went for a hike. As a child, I sometimes got bored by sameness, not realizing that doing the same thing year after year was what makes Thanksgiving great. I know exactly what to expect and yet, the day never fails to arouse a feeling of unexpected familiarity that fills my heart with content. The feeling of tradition is what never fails to surprise me. Often times it is when you vary from tradition that the nostalgia for it pangs most. I spent so many Thanksgivings away from home that now the sameness that I disliked as a child feels so inviting. Maybe it is because I know that this feeling won’t last forever- that people grow old and life passes us by at lightning speed.
On my way to Wadena I spent my drive listening to Minnesota Public Radio’s Thanksgiving broadcast. One segment of the broadcast was a discussion on the notion of a sense of place. This is a subject near and dear to my heart because, as shared previously, I am always searching for places where I can feel fully myself. To love where you are is, in my opinion, the most important thing once can achieve. It influences every part of your day to day life and brings about a sense of peace. The program quoted the old Shaker song Simple Gifts’ lyrics:
“‘Tis the gift to be simple, tis the gift to be free
‘Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight.”
To me, these lyrics encapsulate what Thanksgiving is about: it is about finding a feeling of sameness throughout the chaos and change and about finding ourselves in the right place to appreciate it. It is the simple things in life that I am the most thankful for: family and the precious time to experience life together. It truly is a very beautiful world.