Thanksgiving and Healing

The American holiday Thanksgiving is my favorite, a time when family and friends gather and take a moment to give gratitude for the good in their lives and the lives of their communities. This year of 2016 has been a rough one.

In Washington, DC, where I live, the political discourse on all sides has been as uninspiring and acrimonious as any in my lifetime. No matter one’s political affiliation, consensus is that the recent presidential campaign has left us exhausted with the national conversation in need of elevation and inspiration.

Many opposing the election results have taken to the streets peacefully to articulate their concerns and their fears. The crowds include the young—high school students who are not yet old enough to vote—and the retired as well as the population in between. Whatever one’s vote, I take heart that for the most part these protests are not violent and can be heard. I take heart that the leadership in the nation has accepted the transition and will try to make it successful and that in practice we do not jail or shoot opposing voices or those writing about the opposition. This seems a minimum standard for a democracy, and though it has seen exceptions, in this season of thanks, I am grateful and hopeful that will abide.

Historically Thanksgiving was a day to give thanks for the harvest of the preceding year. In the U.S. the first Thanksgiving is documented in 1621 at Plymouth (now in Massachusetts). The harvest was good, and the new settlers and the local Wampanoag tribe shared the feast, though more uneasily watching each other than we were told as school children. During the American Civil War Abraham Lincoln advocated the story of Pilgrims and Indians eating together to try to encourage people in a divided nation to come together.

Healing occurs one action at a time, one forgiveness, one helping hand, one quiet good deed. Citizens can take the lead. I am hopeful that we individually—the people—will build bridges and not walls. Happy Thanksgiving!


  1. Mark Swinney on November 17, 2016 at 5:14 pm

    “Healing occurs one action at a time, one forgiveness, one helping hand, one quiet good deed.” Joanne, thank you–that’s the perfect call to action.

  2. Elizabeth Starcevic on November 17, 2016 at 5:52 pm

    I work with fiber, and see that the fabric of the country has been torn deliberately.
    Even forgiveness requires an awareness of the immense impact of the destructive acts.
    Forgiveness does not mean forgetting.
    If we are to heal then we must continue to seek justice for all.

    • the Wheatleys on November 17, 2016 at 9:49 pm

      Dear Joanne,

      Again you strike a chord of human harmony that we can only hear with an open mind and trust..

      Love and Happy Thanksgiving to you and the family.

      Julia and Tom.

  3. Roxanne Richards on November 18, 2016 at 11:56 am

    I am still in a state of shock.I hope this country will heal even tho there is so much fear of the people who will be running it.

    Have a good Thanksgiving and be safe.

  4. Judy Tyrer on November 18, 2016 at 5:22 pm

    LOVE the reminder that we can still spout off at the mouth and not get arrested. One state’s legislator is trying to outlaw peaceful protests. I don’t see that happening. But yes, good reminders and thank you.

  5. Kate Blackwell on November 18, 2016 at 9:03 pm

    Thanks for reminding us of the long view, Joanne.

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