Published in the November 22, 2017 edition

Thursday is Thanksgiving and it can’t come fast enough.

Alone among the major holidays, Thanksgiving has resisted the commercialization by the quick buck artists. Our crass modern culture has ruined everything from Presidents’ Day (car sales) to Christmas (take your pick). Thanksgiving survives more or less unscathed, a time for reunions, some football and home-cooked meals.

Thanksgiving is the quintessential American holiday, born on these shores from genuine religious faith, mixed with gratitude and appreciation for all the gifts this land has to offer. The promise inherent in Thanksgiving is its ability to knit together the diverse tapestry of American society around a shared table.

The tapestry may be looking a little frayed lately, but the country has been rough patches before and we’ll get through this too.

More than any other day of the year, Thanksgiving is a day for family. It is a holiday about going home, with all the emotional freight that implies. It is a day for prayer and reflection and hope in the future. The Sunday after Thanksgiving is always the busiest travel time of the year as the airports and train stations are teeming with millions of travelers returning from family gatherings.

We very badly need Thanksgiving. The act of getting together for a celebration of family and friends, kicking back and watching a little football and eating too much turkey and pumpkin pie is a deeply comforting ritual hard-wired in the American psyche.

When the Pilgrims and the Wampanoags gathered for that first autumn feast 396 years ago, they could not have known they were on the verge of profound changes that would alter the course of world history. For us, their cultural descendants, our task must be to turn down the volume, stop shouting at each other and remember that the ties that unite us are far stronger than the forces that would tear us apart.

This is the priceless gift of Thanksgiving.