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A Meaningful Thanksgiving Need Not Look Like a Norman Rockwell Painting

meaningful thanksgiving

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by Harriet Gross

Growing up, Thanksgiving was a delicious family holiday.

However, our table centerpiece, was nothing like the one in Norman Rockwell’s famous painting where Grandma is placing a beautiful big bird on the table. We had Thanksgiving dinner at my Grandma’s all right, but she did not trust that any turkey could be clean inside unless she cut it into pieces for close inspection. Her turkeys were always delectable, but I was in college and a guest of a classmate before I saw anything approximating Rockwell!

Over the years I’ve accumulated many pamphlets designed by numerous organizations that are supposed to help older folks like me make Thanksgiving more “meaningful.” They’re full of prayers and touching stories. Even directions for how to include everyone at the table in some sort of special conversation are included! Do we really need this kind of help? I’m content with family-and-friend talk consisting mostly about how glad we are to be together on the holiday, and how wonderful the food tastes. Nobody needs instructions on how to do this, it just comes naturally.

For those who want a more “meaningful” holiday, may I suggest you make purposeful plans to feed your soul in advance of Thanksgiving. For example, buy an extra turkey or two for the local food bank to give to those who can’t afford their own, and/or contribute money to the missions and other organizations that hold traditional Thanksgiving dinners annually for the needy and the homeless. Sharing our experiences with these acts of kindness make good topics of conversation for our own Thanksgiving tables – no instructions needed!

May yours be a bountiful table with lots of “Giving Thanks” talk!

Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving
Freedom From Want by Norman Rockwell. Source:


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