Election season is finally more or less finished (it’s all over but the countin’). I’m thankful for our American system of self-governance, but our elections always seem a little like a boxing match.
I guess it’s natural and necessary that electoral contests require candidates to highlight what makes them different. Often on a national level that has deteriorated into weaponizing the divisions in our society. We turn cracks into deep ruptures — differences into divisions.
As a body politic, we come away bruised and bleeding.
Fortunately, our next big shared cultural event after Election Day is one of the most American of holidays, Thanksgiving.
We all know and mostly love the holiday because it’s a time to gather with family and stuff ourselves on turkey and all the fixings. Sometimes it’s also a time when we dredge up the old election debates and get into fights over politics.
For me, Thanksgiving is a lot more than that.
The idea of a holiday dedicated to gratitude, to thinking about how we can come together in thankfulness, is inspiring and important.
For years I’ve been exploring and expanding that feeling by curating a list of Thanksgiving songs.
Like Christmas carols enhance the holiday spirit, these songs remind us of the depths that a true, monthlong spirit of Thanksgiving can do for a person — and maybe a nation.
After a season of division, Thanksgiving is a time to remember the values we share. It’s important to return to these bedrock common beliefs, I think. When we shout and argue about politics, it’s because we disagree on how best to accomplish these deeply held goals.
In contrast to election season, Thanksgiving is a time to come together, to focus on the vision of what our American good life could be.
Sowing in the morning, sowing seeds of kindness
Sowing in the noontide and the dewy eve;
Waiting for the harvest and the time of reaping,
We shall come rejoining, bringing in the sheaves.
Hey, it's good to be back home again
Sometimes this old farm feels like a long lost friend.
Yes and hey, it's good to be back home again
Watching football, watching families grow
The old kid's table all have kids of their own
So fill your plate and fill your drink
And fill this house with family
The kind of love a thousand miles can’t wash away
‘Cause the older that I get
I see that life is short and bittersweet
Thank God for this Thanksgiving Day
When upon life's billows you are tempest tossed;
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.
And its a great day to be alive
I know the sun’s still shinin’ when I close my eyes
There’s some hard times in the neighborhood
But why can't every day be just this good?
There are many more reasons to sing about the joy that comes from simple thankfulness.
If you want to listen to these Thanksgiving songs, I have a playlist up at www.bit.ly/Thanksgiving-Songs.
And I’d be awfully grateful if you’d consider singing a few of them with your families. Words and music are at www.bit.ly/Thanksgiving-Songbook.
In these troubled times, let’s take time to picture the good life of our common dreams, and let’s be thankful that we can try to get there together.
Brian Mittge is grateful to live in rural Chehalis, his hometown. Contact him at email@example.com.