By Dr. A. S. Nakadar
Thanksgiving is celebrated all over the world because this is the most basic and yet profound human gesture.
â€œThanks givingâ€ in one or another form expresses gratitude to God for the bounty of the earth. In fact, all the major world religions, including Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam have rituals, observances and liturgies that express thanks and gratitude to a Higher Power for the gift of life. Giving thanks expresses a universal bond that transcends faiths and nationalities.
Those who argue that we should be thankful to God all the time instead of just on a particular day are missing the point. Of course we should be thankful to Allah (swt) each second of our life, minute, hour or a day of life, for the bounties we receive. That is personal and individual. But when the family gets together on an especial day expressly to give thanks, the occasion becomes a very special one. The collective offering of thanks adds joy and charm that is difficult to describe.
It was in the middle seventies that my strictly vegetarian friendâ€™s son and daughter (non vegetarian) were begging his parents for a turkey dinner on Thanksgiving. My friendâ€™s mother was a strict vegetarian who wouldnâ€™t allow anyone to bring meat, cooked or uncooked, into her house–the question of cooking a turkey dinner didnâ€™t arise. For the sake of those children, my wife and I offered to cook turkey at my home. Thus began a tradition that has continued until today, except when Thanksgiving fell during Ramadan.
Now the occasion has become one for the enjoyment of my own family. The children for whom we started the tradition are married and gone; their parents and the original Thanksgiving guests settled elsewhere; the younger generation from that family celebrates Thanksgiving on their own. So for some years now it has become strictly our own family affair. The event begins with the cleaning and preparation the night before. The baking starts in the morning, while we watch Thanksgiving parades from around the country, and is almost done by the time the turkey and a Thanksgiving football game are done.
I pride myself in taking charge of the kitchen and preparing the special dinner. And over the decades this has become our family tradition. Our extended family looks forward to devouring a baked stuffed 20-22 lb turkey. I consider it an especial treat for me in serving all my family members with the â€œhalalâ€ goodies that goes with it. We all relish this evening with joy, gratitude and thanks to Allah (swt) that brings this day. It is another matter when our children in the school and college boast of Dr. Chachaâ€™s (They affectionately call me by this name meaning Dr. Uncle) turkey dinner and of a wonderful Thanksgiving treat.
Each one says his prayers thanking Allah (swt) for being fortunate for the bounties, we pray for our ancestors, our relatives, for the unfortunate people saddled with illness; mostly we give thanks for being in this wonderful country and being a part of a wonderful family.
It takes just over half an hour to consume the turkey, gravy (on this day we ignore our cholesterol count), tarter tots, corn, peas, fries, cranberry sauce, cookies, cakes and pumpkin pie. Kids look for any leftover turkey for their next day sandwich, which in fact they will be lucky if they get. Womenfolk take over from here onwards to clean up the mess, prepare a nice cup of tea; the kids get busy with their video games and we folks relax over chats that vary from political and social developments in USA as well as back home.
To us it is a special day, a day of treats, thanks, and of reflections, same as we celebrate our Eidul Fitr or Eidul Adha–for us this is an American Eid.