The Thanksgiving holiday is upon us. A special time to give thanks for everything we have in our lives—family, friends, delicious food, health and love. This year, I encourage you to add something new to that list: Adventure.
Adventure opens us up to new lifestyles, cultures and traditions. On a day when we look back on what we’re thankful for, it seems appropriate to give thanks to experiences that provide us with a new perspective.
As many know, the origins of Thanksgiving began as an adventure. For all those who don’t remember their fifth grade history class, here’s the gist of it:
In September 1620, a ship called the Mayflower left Plymouth, England carrying an assortment of religious separatists looking to escape oppression and find a new home. After 66 brutal days at sea, the ship landed at the tip of Cape Cod, before making its way across Massachusetts Bay to the spot where the Pilgrims set up their village. Only half of the original passengers lived through the first winter, and it wasn’t until March of 1621 that many moved off the ship and came ashore.
When they arrived, some Native Americans greeted them and helped them cultivate corn, catch fish and extract sap from maple trees. After the Pilgrim’s first corn harvest proved successful in November 1621, the governor organized a feast in celebration. All the Native American allies were invited, and the party lasted three days. It is remembered as the “first Thanksgiving,” though it is unknown what they called it at the time.
Today, the holiday is largely celebrated in the U.S. Even though it is largely considered an American tradition, the concept of Thanksgiving spans centuries, cultures and continents. The Egyptians, Greeks and Romans had feasts paying tribute to the gods at the end of the harvest season; and many of the Separatists and the Puritans that came to America brought traditions of days of feasting and celebration. Versions of Thanksgiving and harvest festivals take place around the world, from Israel to Korea. It truly is a universal holiday.
It’s hard to compare our lives to those of the Pilgrims or any of the ancient civilizations that relied on farming and harvesting for survival. Still, we’ve all had interesting experiences. You may not have gone on any exciting kayaking trips or taken a wilderness safari, but that doesn’t mean you haven’t had an adventure this year.
Adventure can be any kind of exciting or unusual experience, a participation in thrilling happenings. Sure, it might be more interesting when there is some risk involved, but our daily lives rarely bring on hazardous or daring feats. Life tends to throw more dynamic adventures our way: meeting someone from a different country, learning a new skill or hobby, taking a quick weekend trip to visit friends, getting engaged or married, or taking a step down a new path.
As you baste your turkeys, mash your potatoes and chill your cranberry sauce, think back on the many journeys you’ve had over the last 11 months, both physical and emotional. Think about the value those ventures brought to your life, how they made you feel and what you learned. As you sit down to your lovely meal surrounded by family and friends, take a moment to share your stories and give thanks for the opportunity of adventure.