Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. Nothing makes folks feel more like family - even an extended family of 314 million - than partaking of a festive meal on the same day.
The fourth Thursday in November also inspires a feeling of gratitude for what one has - "in spite of."
One of my favorite Thanksgiving traditions is taking a good friend out to breakfast. A fun get-together on a crisp November morning starts the day off right. I don't need to eat turkey-flavored bagels or scrambled eggs with cranberry sauce to feel that sparkle in the air.
Other folks have their own associations with Turkey Day. I decided to ask a few what comes to mind when they think of the holiday, officially proclaimed by President Lincoln in 1863.
David Ira Goldstein, artistic director, Arizona Theatre Company
At ATC I am deep into the creative process with a different group of actors, directors and musicians each November. We are in rehearsals for our musical, which opens the week after Thanksgiving.
So, each year the holiday means new traditions and new friends. At first I felt homesick for the traditions I grew up with in my family, but now I relish the joyous discovery of what this season means to the wide variety of artists who come together to create a show.
Dara Oseran, Hotel Congress
Thanksgiving is a time to remind ourselves of the important things in life for which to be grateful, many of which we take for granted. It is also a special occasion during which we come together in whatever way to give back to our cherished community.
The entire month of November the Hotel Congress is hosting a canned-food drive; in addition we are donating $1 to the Community Food Bank for every dinner special we sell on Thanksgiving at The Cup Café.
Diana Madaras, artist and owner, Madaras Gallery
When I broke my right (dominant) hand in four places three months ago, I was forced to become introspective. The injury was quite serious; I had to search for light in a very dark tunnel. I am thankful to be painting again and believe that going forward, my work will reflect a deeper celebration of life.
One of the first paintings I completed after the accident brought in $11,500 at a charity auction for the Christina-Taylor Green Foundation. I am grateful to continue the work I love, which can benefit others, as well.
Samuel M. Cohon, senior rabbi, Temple Emanu-El and host of the "Too Jewish" Radio Show
To me Thanksgiving is a wonderful Jewish holiday. When else can you call a festival in which you invite all your family members over, including the ones you don't see very often or perhaps don't even like, and overeat? Our Puritan fathers consciously based the holiday on the Biblical festival of Sukkot, the Feast of Booths or Tabernacles in the Torah.
They had studied Hebrew in Holland with a Sephardic rabbi and wished to create a holiday of gratitude. While we offer prayers of Thanksgiving every day in Judaism, this beautiful festival gives us a special opportunity to be grateful for the ordinary, everyday miracles we might otherwise miss.
The Rev. Canon John E. Kitagawa, rector, St. Philip's in the Hills Episcopal Church
When I look forward to Thanksgiving I think about the luncheon we sponsor for members of the congregation. After worship service, in which we give thanks to God for all the blessings in our lives, we enjoy sharing some of God's gifts at lunch.
Even with 100 or so members, it feels like family. One year we had our newest born baby and a 100-year-old parishioner. I am delighted that we feed each other, body and soul.
Mitchell Wherry, server, P.F. Chang's China Bistro
As I reflect on Thanksgiving, I feel grateful that our nation will be celebrating a practice that all of us should try to incorporate more into our daily lives: appreciating all the positive aspects of one's life and utilizing that energy to make improvements in other areas.
No Thanksgiving interview would be complete without a few comments from everybody's favorite Thanksgiving icon, Tom Turkey:
Over the years I've really come to appreciate Thanksgiving as folks are becoming more health conscious. Many are opting for tofurkey, (also known as "faux turkey"). Bet you can never guess what the main ingredient is. I hear it's to die for. Oops, bad choice of words!
On StarNet: Read Barbara Russek's recent columns at azstarnet.com/barbararussek
E-mail Barbara Russek at Babette2@comcast.net