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Around the Table

     It doesn’t matter where the table is. What matters are the people sitting around it—and the many other people who aren’t sitting there: the people in our thoughts. The people who mean something important to us; the people we love; the people we miss today.

     According to the information at and, the first Thanksgiving, in Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1621, was celebrated by 52 colonists and about 50 Native Americans of the Wampanoag tribe. They must have had a large table, or maybe it was several tables. They were there to give thanks for the successful harvest and express gratitude. Not much has changed, except Thanksgiving has become more of a family affair.

     Funny how our giving of thanks centers on a fat, stuffed turkey in the middle of the table. Not always a turkey— many people have switched to a baked ham or some other main dish for convenience’s sake or because they don’t really like turkey that much. But it isn’t the turkey in our midst or the ham or barbecued steak that makes the day. It’s the gratitude.

     We say thank you so often during the day that it’s almost a habit more than a word with deep meaning. I started thinking: What does it REALLY mean to say thank you; what does it REALLY mean to thank someone; what does it REALLY mean when we thank God in our prayers?

     Definitions of “thank” include the words gratitude and appreciation and according to, “The Indo-European “root” for . THA(N)K, THI(N)K and THOUGHT is the Indo-European tong (think).” Since “thank” comes from the word “think,” it must mean something deep enough to penetrate our brain; more than a mere courtesy. The definition of showing gratitude or appreciation gives “thank” that deeper meaning.

     “Appreciation” is defined at as “recognize the full worth of; understand (a situation) fully; recognize the full implications of.” This connects “thank” back to the root word to “think.”

     Sitting around the table, I’ll be thinking of my grandchildren who live in other cities, wishing they were here; I’ll be thinking of the thanks I owe so many professionals who helped Paul through his surgery and rehab; I’ll be thinking of the friends who helped me as I helped Paul through his recovery; I’ll be thinking of the thanks I’ll never give in person to people who have chosen to work in fields I depend on: trash collectors, writers of books that take me away to faraway places, researchers who developed and discovered medications and medical equipment. There are so many more who do the things behind the scenes that ease our daily life.

     I’ll especially be thinking of the people around the table with me, my sons and daughter, my dad, my grandchildren, and appreciating who they are. This Thanksgiving Day will be more than a turkey in the middle of the table; it will be many thankyous shared and appreciation felt.

     Happy Thanksgiving from me to you and to all those at your table.

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