Thanksgiving morning meant only one thing for this young boy of 14. Today I go rabbit hunting with my dad, brothers and other relatives. Equipped with my single barrel 410 shotgun I was prepared to be a ‘man’. One of the things I learned about hunting, early on, was as everyone else listened and followed the barking, known as the chase, if I would stay back in the vicinity of where the rabbit was bedding down before we ‘jumped’ it up, he/she would make a large circle and start back toward home. On more than one occasion this proved to be a successful tactic. This lesson is true in many areas beside rabbit hunting.
After the hunt, we headed home to enjoy a wonderful meal, stories from grandparents, touch football or an array of activities they built lasting memories.
If you stop and ponder the situation, animals invariable have a desire to go home. The most famous of stories is of Lassie returning home. A trip that took several days. The most pronounced exhibition of this phenomena is that of the Salmon.
Salmon babies, known as “fry”, hatch out in lovely flowing fresh streams of water. They have plenty to eat and a safe place to live. Then they leave. They travel downstream to escape this nice, safe habitat, so they might merge into larger streams, rushing mighty rivers, and ultimately into the vast ocean. It is here they are transformed into a salt water salmon. And then they “go home.” They journey through the ocean, go back into the fresh water rivers, navigate through locks and dams, bears and eagles and eager fishermen, and finally make it back to the family table, to the place they were born and nurtured.
Thanksgiving arrives this Thursday. Our annual Thanksgiving holiday may be our most prophetic of all holidays. Like the salmon, I have a burning desire to “go home.” We embrace every part of our family heritage. We join together and become greater. We are individuals with a vital future found in the company with others. Why? Because we return to our roots even as we are looking towards the future.
It is so easy to look beyond Thanksgiving. The “gathering together” for a bit of family time at Thanksgiving has now become a “staging time” for a foray into the shopping malls and big box outlets and activity classified as “Black Friday.” After years of consciously trying not to ‘intrude’ on the sacred “family holiday” of Thanksgiving, retailers have now decided that “Black Friday” can legitimately begin before the turkey gets cold on Thanksgiving Thursday.
So what is Thanksgiving about in 2014? Living in a fast food nation and a “take out” culture it is the one day when we remember old recipes, when we literally and intentionally “taste” our past and let the food tell the story. As the Coker family gather together we will be looking back at family and traditions and looking around the table at ones we love. It is our goal that Thanksgiving will bring out of each of us not a thankfulness for ‘things, but rather, an awareness that Thanksgiving is not about where we are, what we are eating, or what our shopping strategy is for Friday. Thanksgiving must be rooted in a thankfulness for relationships we have been given and the warmth that only comes in Going Home.