Dear Goshen Friends families:
"The depth and the willingness of which we serve is a direct reflection of our gratitude."
I admit it. I am obsessed with thanks. Not in a good way sometimes. In short, when someone does not offer thanks when it is given, that makes me more than a little frustrated. It can be on the roads, at a checkout counter, at a doorway, acknowledging a gift, validating a compliment. I myself fall down in this area, but I am baffled by people who do not even try to honor the goodness of others, who, in my view, expect, even demand that things be done without the need for gratitude. Yes, such few words of thanks may not seem like much, but words (or the lack of them) of appreciation convey a great deal about the person who decided to say them or not. Are we validating the person who opened that door for us? Are we writing a note of thanks when we are given a gift? Do we thank the garbage collector, the mailman, the Wawa checkout clerk, the kind nurse, our dear children, our dedicated teachers, our loving spouses, our loyal friends? Thank you for serving us, thanks for picking up our stinky trash, thanks for being there, thank you for helping our children, thanks for supporting our school, thanks for listening, thanks for loving us. We honor you. Thanks.
Yet, the mere act of saying thanks is not enough. We need to teach our children to offer gratitude, but If we are truly grateful for what has been bestowed upon us, do we show are gratitude by reaching out and helping others? Are we models of grace and compassion for our children? Do we use what has been granted to us to show acts of kindness, to use our gifts to alleviate suffering, to extend our thanks by supporting our children, our spouses, our neighbors and those whom we may never even know? When tragedy strikes in the Philippines, what do we say to our children who are age appropriate for such a discussion? Do we share in our and their sadness, speak about our and their fears, discuss how we can help and lead our children toward action, albeit small? Do we tell them how lucky we all are and leave at that? Or do we teach them that being thankful really means helping those who are struggling? So, we have a responsibility to our children, don't we? Thank you starts with small words of gratitude, but it grows exponentially with acts of care, love and hope.
In the fall of 1863, in the midst of a civil war which produced over 600,000 casualties, Abraham Lincoln declared the first national Thanksgiving. I am still overwhelmed by that. Gratitude in the middle of such grief and sadness? Although George Washington had done the same 74 years earlier, states had not followed his decree, choosing to celebrate their own thanksgiving holidays at different times of the year. Lincoln had been urged by Sarah Hale, a 74 year old magazine editor, to create such a holiday, writing, "It now needs National recognition and authoritative fixation, only, to become permanently, an American custom and institution." He did so on October 3, although the proclamation itself was written by his Secretary of State, William Seward. If you can be patient with the flowery and elongated style of the times, written below are a few words from that proclamation which are important to remember as we give thanks for our blessings this coming Thursday.
"I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of Thursday next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that they commend to His Tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged."
Even within a terrible war, Lincoln connected gratitude with helping others, those who had little, those who had suffered, those in pain. May we and our children do the same during this Thanksgiving season. Be mindful. Be compassionate. Act. "What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal."
For Lower School parents, we invite you and your family (extended as well) to our Family Meeting for Worship on Monday, November 25, at 10 a.m. This is a wonderful time of reflection and sharing as we celebrate Thanksgiving in community and fellowship.Please remember our Preschool holiday programs on December 18 and 19 and our Lower School holiday programs on Thursday night, December 19. Come and enjoy superb singing and joyous festivities as we celebrate the holidays together.
Thank you for entrusting us with your children. Thank you for all you do for Goshen. Thank you for believing in us. Enjoy this time with your family and friends, and may you find peace and quiet at Thanksgiving – somewhere!!
Happy Turkey Day!Tom
Read Tom's Bio
Graduates of Quaker elementary schools know themselves and are able to recognize the strengths of peers. Because they are effective communicators and creative problem solvers at an early age, the fifth graders approach transitions with self-assurance. They are not only prepared for a middle school setting; they are “ready” in every sense.
Support Head of School Tom Richards as he paddles his way to an all-purpose room. Tom's Kayaking Quest (pdf)Click here to follow Tr. Tom's Quest and to make a donation!Watch Tr. Tom kayak!If you would like to support Tr. Tom but would prefer not to use the on-line donation process, click here to access a form. Keep in mind, it does not contain the most recent totals. Please fill in all relevant information and return the form with your payment (cash or check) to Goshen Friends School.