As fall turns into winter we gather with our families or friends to celebrate Thanksgiving. We delight in parades and football games and get stuffed with plenty of turkey, but on a deeper level, what we celebrate on Thanksgiving is each other.
Thanksgiving was first made a national holiday in 1863, shortly after the battle of Gettysburg. President Abraham Lincoln, fresh off the Union’s victory and holding the visions of a country at odds with itself, proclaimed that we shall, “set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving… commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.”
It was Lincoln’s hope, one that I hope we share, that through a national day of reflection, we are reminded that we matter to each other. Whether we differ in politics, prestige, or pocketbooks, every one of us matters. Lincoln went on to say in near biblical fashion that our sentiments of gratitude for life should be turned into loving action. That is what is special about giving thanks in a deep way. We open our minds and hearts to each other, and all become better people.
This Thanksgiving, I’m reminded of Donna and her amazing daughter, Becky. They lived in an affordable guest house, but recently, the owner was forced to sell the home, giving mother and daughter six weeks to find a place to live. It was especially problematic because Becky is an individual with a developmental disability; a discontinuation in her care could be especially difficult. Donna called the Federation and was connected to a social worker who could also help with benefits for Becky. Because Donna has a limited income, she was able to move onto a short list for housing for people with disabilities. The social worker also assisted Donna in applying for some respite care. We just received word that they are approved for an apartment and will be moving in shortly, and thanks to our Max Factor Family Foundation Assistance Network, we can help them with the first month’s rent and deposit.
When we remember to give thanks for what we have, we can open our hearts to others. It’s because of your generosity, we helped Donna and Becky find a place to live.
May this Thanksgiving bring you joy, and inspire all of us to transform our deepest sensibilities into a better world for all.
R’ Noah Farkas