This holiday reminds us of our calling to be happy and to make sure all of our brothers and sisters have reasons to be give thanks.
Every year in November, North American society contemplates the celebration of thanksgiving on the occasion of Thanksgiving Day. On this day, the most beloved and the most anticipated, for American people, we recall a foundational historical event of the United States as a nation: the first harvest and first meal shared between the natives and the pilgrims in the year 1621.
The emotion evoked by this historical event provides all of us who live in this country with a reason to travel and gather together with family and with those dearest to us to indulge, rejoice, break bread together, and, above all, give thanks for all that we are and all that we have.
Within this opportunity to give thanks, at this pause, meeting and annual holiday that, as a nation, we observe to be thankful, lies the importance and worth of this celebration: It is a celebration that summons us to a giving of thanks to be happy.
Because the original vocation and the primordial and unceasing search of humans is to be happy and only he who is able to be thankful, who is able to live finding reasons in everyday life to be thankful, can be happy. Therefore, Thanksgiving is a day for happiness, it is a day when we feel happy and when we are happy, because it is a day to evoke, recollect, and contemplate all the reasons we have to be thankful, all the reasons we have to be happy.
But gratitude cannot be relegated or limited to one day, to one date every year, because daily life itself is a gift … so gratitude beyond this annual celebration must be a permanent attitude in our lives and in the work of each one of us and of all of us as a family and a nation.
It gives us the opportunity to be thankful, to be happy, to live with a sense of transcendence, with the possibility of discovering life and everything within it as a gift and as evidence of the presence of God’s love: the possibility to live life as a space-time of blessings while also remaining vigilant against a life simply lived for money, in the ephemeral nature of buying and selling, in the tangible utilitarianism of supply and demand, in consumerist materiality and in exhausting, innate, and passing mercantilism.
All of us who live in the United States have many reasons to be thankful and to be happy. Because all the good that we are, and have, as well as what happens to us, is something for which we can be thankful — or at the very least, something good from which we can learn and then move on.
Our lives, our families, our loved ones, our health, our educational and work opportunities, our dreams and goals, our daily efforts and our personal and community achievements reflected in the greatness of this nation and in the quality of life we can enjoy … these are all reasons we see daily and for which we can be thankful and live with a permanent attitude of thankfulness.
But we all know that here and everywhere there is a lot of room for improvement, a lot to humanize, many reasons for pain, anguish, and suffering, many experiences of injustice, of violence and of death, many frustrated dreams and many failed hopes, many ways in which evil manifests in human selfishness.
On Thanksgiving, and on every day, we are presented with an opportunity to give thanks but, also and especially, we are offered a challenge to be happy, to create reasons to be thankful. Gratitude is a daily attitude and conquest: an attitude that we actively must seek.
Thanksgiving gladdens and challenges us, brings us together, but sends us out to build reasons every day to keep thanking, to remain happy. We have much to celebrate, but we have many more reasons to keep living and constructing every day the lives, families, relationships, communities, and living spaces around us that allow us to continue giving thanks.
Without this ongoing search for happiness, Thanksgiving is just another day on the calendar. There cannot be a true and authentic Thanksgiving when there are still people in the world who suffer and languish because they lack the minimum conditions to live, believe, love, wait, thank and be happy.
Thanksgiving is an annual holiday of our homeland, a day on the calendar to give thanks, but it’s especially a celebration that remind us that gratitude must be our permanent mission — to relaunch ourselves into the construction of a better, more humane world in which all inhabitants of the earth—not only those of this nation—live and have the opportunity to celebrate and give thanks.
Happy Thanksgiving! May you always find and build many reasons to give thanks and be happy!