George V. Reilly

Giving Thanks

let the pilgrims and indians live together in peace and harmony

My first Thanks­giv­ing took place nineteen years ago. I was a 24-year-old graduate student, recently arrived at Brown. One of my of­fice­mates and her husband insisted that I and a Swedish grad student accompany them to her parents’ house for Thanks­giv­ing dinner. It snowed that day, the first snow of the winter. We set off in what seemed like a blizzard, up I-95 into Mass­a­chu­setts. The day was cold, but the reception was warm. A houseful of Patrice’s relatives made us most welcome.

Ever since, I’ve always sat down to a large, convivial dinner at Thanks­giv­ing. At first, others welcomed me into their homes. For the last decade, Emma and I have played host to others who, like us, have no relatives in the area.

In the early years, Thanks­giv­ing had little emotional resonance for me. It had not been part of my childhood. Unlike Christmas, it had no deep-seated as­so­ci­a­tions for me. I had no family traditions to draw upon. I had not grown up eagerly an­tic­i­pat­ing Thanks­giv­ing every year.

Now, I do look forward to it. Thanks­giv­ing is a fine day to beat back the winter gloom, to share in the warmth of our friends. Halloween and Christmas are rankly commercial, but the merchants have never managed to draw Thanks­giv­ing down to the same depths.

I give thanks for my lovely wife, for my health and prosperity, and for my dear friends.

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