There are many American holiday ideas that Swedes are more than ready to give a whirl. Very often, however, most of it really is just ‘giving it a whirl’. My children have already dropped Halloween, claiming that they are too old for it and that it isn’t really that popular. Through the years, I’ve noticed that biggest of American holidays, Thanksgiving, cropping up here and there. However, when I saw Thanksgiving on the web site of Riksföreningsverigekontakt, an organization devoted to the preservation of Swedish language and culture wherever it exists in the world, I began to wonder whether something serious was happening.
I motored over to my local ICA to check whether the cornmeal, canned mashed pumpkin and frozen turkeys had made their way onto the shelves and freezers. All I could find were sweet potatoes, which don’t quite add up to Thanksgiving dinner. Then at home that evening on the radio that keeps me company in the kitchen, I thought that P2 was broadcasting something that they called ‘music of thanks’. There it was again. Thanksgiving was gatecrashing our pre-Christmas experience of bare trees and darkness.
I am an American (amongst other things) but wasn’t raised with Thanksgiving dinners because my German mother preferred goose on the 24th of December. Late November was just too early for all that fuss. Throughout the years, I have been invited to Thanksgiving dinners in various parts of the world by kind persons who thought that I would miss it. In fact, they introduced me to it and my conclusion is that we need Thanksgiving much more than we do our religious holidays.
The whole world, including Sweden, needs to smoke peace pipes, lay down its arms and show thanks and appreciation for the riches that the earth has delivered. It needs to show more of the humility that comes hand in hand with giving thanks, because that is one of the qualities that will save us. We need Thanksgiving now, everywhere, more than we ever have.
Today The American Club of Sweden humbly organized a Thanksgiving dinner for the homeless at Stadsmission in the heart of Stockholm. I bought some of those sweet potatoes from ICA and rustled together a few pies which I dropped off at the event. Thanksgiving is on my calendar to stay one way or another. It is a lagom (just right) idea, in the best sense of that favorite Swedish term.