Overhead images of a Thanksgiving table with food and hands passing dishes.

How to Celebrate Thanksgiving

No one has the perfect family.

One way of being grateful is throw oneself into an empathetic future. Sure, relatives can be difficult to sit with at the Thanksgiving dinner table. What will I feel when they are gone? How will I yearn for these moments, even those that irritate or upset me, when I can no longer be with people whom I love? 

It is a paradox of human nature that we realize this truth but seem unable to absorb it. My late teacher Rabbi David Lieber once told me that we can foreknow things but we cannot “forefeel” them.

As we gather around our Thanksgiving tables, let us remember and miss those who are not there, be grateful for those who are, and make a promise to sustain sympathy so that our celebrations will ring in the memory of the younger group throughout the years. Just as Thanksgivings of the past warm our memories and touch our hearts. 

Rabbi David Wolpe’s musings are shared in My Jewish Learning’s Shabbat newsletter, Recharge, a weekly collection of readings to refresh your soul. Sign up to receive the newsletter.

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