By Cantor Rachel Goldman Neubauer
It’s hard to forget that Thanksgiving is this week. I go to the supermarket and see pumpkin-flavored EVERYTHING on display (yum), my favorite Thursday shows aren’t on this week, and I’m already being bombarded by Christmas decorations in the malls and on the city streets to warm the whole world up for Black Friday. Yup, it’s definitely Thanksgiving time.
Minus the excuse to gather with friends and family and enjoy an awesome spread of food, Thanksgiving has, in the past few years, been one of those days when I ask myself “what’s the big deal?” Yes, I know the holiday originally served the purpose of marking something great in history, but culturally it has become exactly what its namesake suggests: a day to give thanks. A day to be in gratitude.
Now listen, don’t get me wrong—I love spending time with friends and family. I love fighting over the last slice (or entirety) of a pumpkin pie. But a day set aside to be grateful? Just one day? Those of us in recovery, in the Beit T’shuvah community, and/or living lives of T’shuvah do this on a daily basis. I personally know that I live in gratitude. I am constantly aware of it. It’s something that I’ve worked for, but it’s pretty much a constant thing for me at this point. Gratitude is my rule, not my exception. This is why I personally struggle with this concept of setting aside ONE single day to be grateful. Why not just try and have every day of my life be a Thanksgiving of sorts?
I would like to wish everyone reading this a Happy Thanksgiving. But I would also like to encourage everyone, like we encourage at Beit T’Shuvah do on Yom Kippur, to remember that the sentiments behind the holiday do not disappear with the turkey leftovers. Try writing a gratitude list in the morning or at night. Remember that T’Shuvah is not just saying sorry when you are wrong, but realizing that your life is full of things to give thanks for, and knowing that those things exist is exactly what helps you “return” when you find something you want to run away from. So what I’d really like to wish everyone is a grounding Thanksgiving. May we all find the things that we are thankful for and want to hold onto no matter what, and may we keep holding onto it even when Hallmark doesn’t remind us that we need to.