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For Thanksgiving Day Hosts: A Letter to Send to Your Guests

Dear family and friends,

We are looking forward to having you at our Thanksgiving table. Yes, we will be asking the same question we ask every year: What are you grateful for? I can already predict some of the answers. You can too. We will say things like: health, home, and family. On occasion, one of us will get more reflective, motivating the rest of us who have not yet spoken to go a little deeper. So, I send out this note in advance, to encourage us all, myself included, to go deeper, to reflect on this question before we get together, and to arrive at our home with a story or a particular moment to share. I know that if we are more in touch with what matters to us at our core, and we are able to share this with one another, our time together will be more meaningful.

One more ask. I know that we’re not all on the same page politically. I know that we sometimes avoid each other, or at least, avoid certain topics of conversation because we understand the result will not be pretty. I also know that there are hurts, ancient, and not so ancient, that have built up between us over the years and have pulled us apart. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure this out. We all know it. I’m just putting it out there. Don’t worry, I’m not asking us to reach out to one another and make everything all better before we get together. I understand reconciliation takes time.

My ask is simpler: in the spirit of this holiday, let’s do a little more reflective work before we arrive at the table for our shared meal; let’s each find one thing we are grateful for in one another.* While we may be on opposite sides of the political spectrum, and while we may carry deep hurts about one another, and while we may not always like one another, surely there is something good, something positive, something worthy, some bit of holiness that that we can find in one another for which we are grateful. Perhaps, a few of these additional reflections will find their way to our Thanksgiving table. It is in this spirit that I welcome you all into our home.


*Inspired by a teaching from the Hassidic master, Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav (1772-1810).