I love living in the tiny village along the Mississippi that I’ve called home for over twenty years!
I don’t miss the traffic, the noise and the lines found in larger cities. I can walk through our streets without feeling threatened anytime day or night. I get to soak up the beauty of my surroundings without driving anywhere. In fact, I can walk from one end of the village to the other a couple times without tiring.
Thanksgiving weekend is a popular one here. The population increases dramatically as all of the children and grandchildren return for the holidays. Not only is it the start of deer hunting in the area, but there is an alumni basketball tournament at the school over the weekend.
My oldest son has played in it since he graduated, and it has been a tradition for over a decade. The players reunite with their high school teammates to play against both younger and older teams. Generations of family members come to cheer on the teams. At halftime break of each game, the court overflows with children dribbling basketballs and shooting hoops until the teams return for the second half.
I sit in the stands greeting the mothers and fathers of my son’s team. It’s a bit of deja vu from days past when our high schoolers ran up and down the court. Our hair has more silver and our faces a few more lines now, but the enthusiasm and goodwill are still abundant.
In the evening, a Christmas parade with lighted floats, fire trucks, horses, music and Santa is followed by fireworks over the Mississippi River. It is a fitting end to our weekend.
I saw a post the other day where someone wrote that they didn’t understand why Americans had a “day” of Thanksgiving. The tradition is one of being thankful for the harvest, especially in the rural communities so dependent on a good harvest before the long winter. It is also an acknowledgment of our country’s early beginnings, and how the generosity of the local Native American tribespeople helped the early settlers survive their first winter.
But, Thanksgiving is about more than remembering to give “Thanks” on one specific day. For me, it is a time for gathering as a family and a community. It is a time to realize the shared blessings of being a part of something so much larger than yourself. It is a time to reinforce the importance of giving of my time, talents and resources to those less fortunate and to those I care about.
Our small town holiday weekend reminds me of what is good in the world and how crucial it is to be an active participant in the world around me. To recognize and speak out against inequality and injustice while doing my best to be a positive force in the world.
This work doesn’t happen on just one day, but every day. It all starts with you, your family and your community. Make efforts to improve each of these areas and the blessings will continue to spread.