I’m creating a Thanksgiving Day/celebration in New Zealand. You’re invited to create one too.
A national memorial service
is being held in New Zealand tomorrow to reflect on the terrible loss of life from the Christchurch earthquake. It’s a time to grieve for those who passed away and to support people who lost loved ones. It could also be time for many of us to reflect on how lucky we are.
There’s lots of grief in the world right now. There’s also lots to be grateful for. In the wake of recent disasters and wars, many of us can feel thankful for what we have. We are the lucky ones free from harm. We are the fortunate ones with so much freedom. We are the well-off ones to whom so much has been given.
So much has happened over the last few weeks. The world has literally shifted
. It started with elation. Waves of liberation spread
in Northern Africa and the Middle East. First it was Tunisia. Then it was Egypt. Libya seemed to be going the same way. People were inspired by the power of citizens to lead peaceful revolution. Hearts were ignited across the globe.
Then the Earth shook.
While civilians in Libya were murdered by their government, a massive earthquake rocked Christchurch. Thousands of buildings were destroyed. About 200 people died. A national emergency was declared. People across Aotearoa and the world expressed heart-felt condolences. Support has flowed generously.
Then the Earth shuddered.
This time it was devastating. Although the impacts of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami are still unfolding, it’s distressing to see what people are experiencing. More hearts are opening and pouring out in support.
While the mass media usually shows the worst impacts of these disasters (which a friend of mine calls “grief porn”), there are also many inspiring stories emerging. They demonstrate the resilience of the human spirit. They show us what is really at our core. In New Zealand this includes many stories of kindness and generosity
coming closer together, schools
being overwhelmed with goodwill and farmers markets
invigorating community life.
A day for the grateful living
We don’t need disasters to remind us what’s most important in life, but it’s easy to take much for granted. That’s why I like the idea of regular thanksgiving events in New Zealand.
Here are a few things to be grateful for:
we live in a country with great political freedoms. We aren’t shot or imprisoned for expressing our beliefs. We have citizen-funded safety nets for people in need (unlike most places in the world). We have universal healthcare and education. Food and water are abundant. Many people are working to protect/regenerate our cherished environment. We’re nuclear free. Most of our electricity comes from the rain. We’re culturally diverse. We’re one of the most peaceful
places on Earth. We have flushing loos, telephones, roads, internet access, public parks and beaches. And we have amazing coffee.
The list goes on… not to mention all the people in our personal lives who support us and enrich our lives. But how often do we really make time to reflect on this?
This is why I’m going to host a Thanksgiving celebration in New Zealand. We don’t have an official Thanksgiving Day in our country, but there’s nothing stopping us from creating our own personal versions.
Thanksgiving Days in the USA and Canada
have different origins (linked to the lives of early colonists), but I love the idea behind these celebrations. They’re about showing gratitude for our good fortune
. They are an opportunity to gather with friends/family and to raise a toast to life, to loved ones and to everything that we’ve been given.
North American Thanksgiving Days were established in Autumn, towards the end of the harvest. They rewarded all the hard work that’s been done. As we enter Autumn in the Southern Hemisphere, it therefore seems like an ideal time to create our own celebrations.
I’ve set aside Saturday 16 April for Thanksgiving in New Zealand. I’m hosting a feast in Wellington. I’m also inviting more people to do the same.
I’m curious about how people respond to the idea of Thanksgiving celebrations in New Zealand. I’ve therefore set up a Facebook page for anyone to share impressions/ideas (or you can add them to this post below). You’re welcome to add any comments / pictures about what Thanksgiving could involve in Aotearoa. You can even share something that you’re grateful for.
If you’re interested in taking part in a Thanksgiving event… go for it! It’s easy to invite people over for a meal and to share some reflections on what we’re grateful for. You don’t even need to stick to the same day in April. You might want to make it a feature of Easter instead.
If you’re not keen on creating a special occasion, that’s fine too. We can give our attention to what we are thankful for any time we wish. Gratitude’s a great attitude to live by in life.
Note: This is a cross-posting from Re-Be