It’s that time of year again when the patriot in me shines through. Thanksgiving remains one my favorite national American holidays ever. When I was growing up, I used to sit with my grandmother o.b.m., and watch the entire Macy’s Day Parade on TV. We sat around watching the helium balloons of Rocky and Bullwinkle, Spiderman, Big Bird and Snoopy pass by. Then, we’d enjoy an amazing turkey feast. At some point, I’d sneak away to watch the Cowboys and Lions host the Thanksgiving Classic.
When we moved to Israel 9 years ago, I wasn’t sure how the traditions and treats of Thanksgiving would mesh with our new life and culture. There have been years where we’ve participated in huge Thanksgiving dinners, while some years we gave the sacred meal an Israeli twist- turkey shwarma with hot sauce and an Israeli beer.
I’m dedicating this Thanksgiving season to the true essence of the day, thanks and the giving. (Don’t worry I’ve already reserved my seat at a friend’s house for the games and the food well that’s yet to be determined. )
As the world is well aware, over the past week life in Israel just got a lot more interesting. The war has taken a toll on everyone in Israel. Announcements of air raid sirens have become normal, homes are being destroyed by rockets, schools in the South are out of session or have been relocated to safer areas, and businesses halted because the staff of men and women have been called up to defend their country.
Considering what’s going on,I think we should all be thankful for…
- For starters, IRON DOME. Need I say more?!
- A considerate and deliberate military.
- An air force which has been able to handle the situation with minimal ground support
- A country whose families and culture support its military efforts
This war, with all of its insanity, is mobilizing people from far and wide all collaborating ready to contribute in any way possible. Dare I say that war has the unique ability to break the boundaries of religious beliefs, political views and unnecessary labels that plague society during normal times?
Here are a few examples of the wide range of giving I’ve seen, and actively participated in, during these tough times:
- Facebook groups created to organize hosting of families from the South (http://www.facebook.com/groups/471519209566540/)
- Communities opening their homes to other communities from affected areas
- Hotels offering free or reduced rates for families from South
- Recreational facilities bringing children from the South for a day or days of entertainment
- Facebook pages and hashtags created to promote Israel in a positive way to the media (www.facebook.com/stoptherocketslive and #stoptherockets)
- Organizations and foundations raising money for needed supplies (from toys to mattresses, from food to warm blankets)
- Prayer vigils around the world for the wellbeing of Israel, its soldiers and peace in the region
- Tech people using their resources to design time-sensitive apps (locate a shelter, Code red app)
Gratitude enhances our experience of the good things in life, enabling us to enjoy them more thoroughly. Gratitude also helps us to endure the hard things in life with dignity, perhaps even with humor. Gratitude is like savoring a fine meal, enjoying every bite, rather than racing through a meal as if it’s some sort of race.
So this year, even those in Israel can celebrate the holiday with a good dose of thanks and can take pride in all of the selfless giving that’s going on!
How are you thanking those around you and giving back during these times?