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One Good Day: Thoughts on Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving gives me mixed emotions. Yes, it is a time of joy, a celebration of the Plymouth Colony’s first successful harvest. They would never have survived without the help of the Wampanoag (which translates to “People of the First Light”), who showed them how and when to plant and reap the foods that would sustain them through their second winter in America. (During the first terrible winter, nearly half of them died.) But what happened to the Wampanoag tribe after the first Thanksgiving is the stuff of nightmares — illness decimated them, war (with colonists and other tribes) nearly finished them off. It’s enough to dash anyone’s joy.


Thanksgiving became a national holiday in 1863 for one very important reason: President Lincoln was desperately trying to find something that might bring the divided nation together, if only for one day — one good day. And while the first Thanksgiving probably ran for several days, those were good days, too. Any day spent in fellowship is a good day.

Thanksgiving this year, in many ways, hearkens back to Thanksgivings of old. As a nation, we remain bitterly divided politically. Those on the margins face terrible persecution. But mightn’t we still manage to have one good day together?

Let us meet where the good is,
where the God-in-us overlaps.
In that place of touching, let us find thanks
for that which holds the center,
for the still spot around which history spins,
for what we know of one another,
God-formed and God-blessed.
Let our feasting feed the seeing side of us.
One good day may come, rising in the East
where the people of the first light still linger,
spreading sun, a shared blanket,
passing bread from mouth to mouth.

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Lori Strawn

Providence Associate Lori Strawn is a freelance writer and editor who lives in Witchita, Kansas. A 1987 graduate of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College, Lori formerly served on the advisory board for the Providence Associates.

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  1. Batbara Sheehan on November 25, 2021 at 6:54 am

    This is a marvelous reflection. Thanks

  2. Jeannie Smith on November 25, 2021 at 10:24 am

    A beautiful reflection, Lori. Many thanks to you!

  3. Susan Paweski on November 25, 2021 at 11:29 am

    Lori, thank you sharing these beautiful thoughts. Yes, we have much to be thankful for today and every day.
    Sue, SP

    • Donna Butler on November 25, 2021 at 7:57 pm

      Thank you for beautiful writing that acknowledges the mixed emotions, yet speaks of hope for healing.

  4. Shelton Alice on November 25, 2021 at 12:52 pm

    Thank you for sharing your wonderful gift of putting feelings and hopes and dreams in to words for us dear friend Lori! Happy thanksgiving to you and Owen!

  5. S. Denise Wilkinson on November 25, 2021 at 4:17 pm

    “Mightn’t we still manage to have one good day together?”A wonderful question and challenge. Thanks, Lori.

  6. Sabrina Falls on November 27, 2021 at 10:26 am

    It is not easy to hold joy and grief at the same time. Thank you, Lori, for this beautiful poem/prayer/reflection of hope that warms my aching heart. I especially love this line: “Let our feasting feed the seeing side of us.” And thank you for lifting up the generosity and hospitality of the “People of the First Light” who displayed and offered to our European ancestors the love and light of God in a dark time.

  7. Connie SP on December 1, 2021 at 8:24 pm

    Very touching reflection Lori. Loved all the images you let us feast on in your reflection.

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