Thankful that Thursday became Thanksgiving

As a Canadian living in the US, I am still a bit “new” to Thanksgiving.  While there is Thanksgiving in Canada, it falls on the 2nd Monday in October.  It is more often than not either Yom Kippur, or Sukkot or sometime in between all the holidays where no one can think about eating anymore.  Needless to say, in my Jewish home growing up, the High Holidays trumped Thanksgiving.

Happy ThanksgivingWhen I moved to America for grad school, I typically went home when Thanksgiving rolled around.  It seemed smart!  To me, it was just Thursday!   A couple of years ago, however, the cost of flights to Toronto at Thanksgiving was so high that I couldn’t justify flying across the continent to spend a Thursday sitting on my parents’ couch while my family and friends were all at work.   Instead I took my best friend David up on his invitation to spend the holiday with his family.  The food was delicious, the company was great, and the stories and moments that everyone shared were so genuine and meaningful that I decided Thanksgiving was my new favourite thing in the whole world.  I didn’t feel like a nuisance or an extra mouth, and I spent a good amount of time kicking myself for ever having worried about it.

This year I have come to realize, that while it took me a while to jump on the idea of celebrating Thanksgiving, I am not new to the idea of Giving Thanks.  I credit my parents, my friends, and all the communities I’ve been fortunate enough to call home, for contributing to the importance I place on the value of gratitude.  There is so much for which I am grateful and thankful, and now included on that list is the opportunity to spend a day talking about it (while eating delicious food and spending time with people I love).

In having this epiphany about giving thanks, I found myself doing a bit of “Thanksgiving research.”  Since the holiday is still novel to me, I’m so curious about how and why it is so important to other people.  I caught up with some of our camp staff and asked them about Thanksgiving and what they were thankful for.  A few of them were happy to have me share their sentiments here!

Jeremy Rosengarten:  “In a nutshell, I am thankful for my family, my friends, and my community.”

leigh and sadieSadie Dorf:  “I’m thankful for how welcoming the people I surround myself are. Whether it’s my grandma inviting friends over for dinner or my mom reaching out to our extended family, I love how inclusive Thanksgiving at my house is.  What I love about Thanksgiving is how comfortable everyone feels at the table. I’m thankful we can come together and enjoy a good meal, laugh at each other and make the most of the holiday.”

Leigh Berman:  “I’m thankful I get to spend every Thanksgiving break with my camp friends.”

Adam Nickels:  I am thankful for having the opportunity to travel (twice!) to a different country where I was able to experience a whole new society, culture and one big family which welcomed me in with open arms. I am greatful for Camp Interlaken giving me the opportunity to make lifelong friends both in America and around the world and I am thankful for the future it is going to bring me!

Jojo Rubnitz:  “I’m thankful for many aspects of my life.  Of course my family, friends, and the food on my table,  especially around the holidays.  I am also thankful for my Jewish
background and upbringing.  It has given me so many great opportunities like going to a great Jewish Day School and summer camp.  My Jewish Education and summer camp experience made me the person I am today.  I have met the most amazing friends and have learned so much.”

Aaron Stern, in true form, sent me a poem about the things for which he is thankful:

I’m thankful for camp, I’m thankful it’s true

For the trees tall and green, and the Finley so blueAaron Stern

For the campers that smile, for the fun, games, and all

But the best part of camp, for me is tushball

The true sport of camp, there’s blood and there’s tears

It’s what’s kept me coming back, for 13 good years

With spins to the left, and throws to the right,

We start in the morning, and tush through the night

So please take my word, for there is nothing funner

Happy thanksgiving to all, hope to see you this summer!

This year I am thankful to work in a field about which I am so passionate, and to have the opportunity to make an impact on the life of others.  I am grateful to have had my own transformative Jewish experience at camp, and to be a part of an agency and a community that is as dedicated to providing these kinds of experiences to others as I am.  I am thankful (as I am every day) for my family, friends, and loved ones.  I am thankful for the transition from Thursday to Thanksgiving.

May you all have a wonderful holiday filled with good food, meaningful moments, and gratitude.  Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!!