This caught my eye, and even though it’s not directly Buddhist, and even though up here in Canada where the harvest comes earlier and Thanksgiving is in October and the whole Christmas shopping season thing is more like a boiling frog than a lobster dropped in a pot — well, this caught my eye, so here you go.
Thanksgiving is a one of our better ideas. We, theoretically, reflect on how fortunate we are to have what we have. The day after Thanksgiving would be a great day to start thinking how we might start addressing wrongs perpetuated on anybody trampled in the process of putting together the comfort and security we are so thankful for. Instead, we’ve turned it into a symbolic date for acquiring shinier objects in anticipation of how we can best miss the point of our next major holiday. Perhaps worse, it infects Thanksgiving itself, turning the holiday into, effectively, a paean to culinary gluttony in preparation for commercial gluttony.
Back at our Thanksgiving we had a ceremony at the Zen Centre, as we do every year, and it began with an informal sitting period in which everyone at some point made their way down to the kitchen, took a pencil and paper, and wrote down what they were thankful for. All of those papers went into a bowl, and later the bowl gets passed around the zendo, everyone pulls out a piece of paper, makes sure it’s not theirs, reads it carefully to themselves to make sure they understand what’s being said — that’s so important — and then reads the note aloud.
Some people write a tiny sentence. Some fill the page. Some write short poems. A lot of people are thankful for the Three Treasures, for the opportunity to practice, for the friends and family close to them. Some are thankful to have lived another year.
And with everyone reading someone else’s, we’re all thankful for everything each of us is thankful for.