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Jen Klein is a New England-based technical writer and mother of three. When she isn't asking her kids to stop bickering, "caramelizing" the dinner or actively ignoring the dust bunnies under the couch, she enjoys knitting, gardening, pho...

Thanksgiving gratitude

You know the Louis Armstrong song, "It's a Wonderful World"? My favorite line in it is, "I see friends shaking hands, saying 'How do you do?', They're really saying, "I...I love you." Amid all the stress and anxiety and differences of opinion and straight dislike in the world, there is a whole lot of love, too. And love begins at home and spreads first among our circle of friends.

Thanksgiving gratitude

It happens that our extended families are scattered around the country, and we rarely see them on Thanksgiving. My husband usually has to work in the morning, so we don't travel for the holiday, either, and have chosen instead to make our own traditions. This has worked out really well, and we find that each Thanksgiving is a new, richer experience for it. Instead of lamenting distant family, we invite friends and often colleagues of my husband - colleagues who often are new to this country - to join us. We create a new circle of friendship and love every year.

New friends

When we invite new people to our Thanksgiving table, we learn something new and we create new love. If the person asks what they can contribute, I say something you would bring to a family dinner at home, wherever that home may be. Not only do we get to try a new dish, we learn something, then, about the way that person's family demonstrates love for one another, and often stories about this family member or that. It's an expression of love that is part of the heart of Thanksgiving. It brings more people to the table, if only in spirit - and definitely brings more love for which to be thankful. It may not be love for us, but it is love nonetheless.

Old friends

When we invite old friends to Thanksgiving, we are reconnecting with some genuinely wonderful people, and strengthening the affection among our families. While this connection and affection are known, I also think about how, several years ago, these wonderful people were strangers to us. It seems as if we've always been friends! Perhaps on some level we were always friends but didn't know it yet. At any rate, this family of six that is now a cherished element of our circle brings a richness to our Thanksgiving experience that can only be described as love. It is that warm and joyful and it is a feast for the soul as much as the food is a feast for the body.


Finally, when I look at my family around the Thanksgiving table, I am so thankful for the love we give to each other every day of the year, and I do not take that love for granted. I think about the times we are less than loving with each other, even as we do love each other, and how we take risks in continuing to love even if we feel hurt. I think about loving when things feel easy and when they feel hard. And I am so thankful we do not give up on that love for one another - and in that not giving up, the love only grows.

It really is true that the more love you give, the more you receive. As I look around the Thanksgiving table at my family and good friends and new friends, I see a microcosm of is happening at tables all around the United states, and what can happen all around the world.

What a wonderful world, indeed.

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