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Thursday, 22 November 2012

Thanksgiving speech - delivered Thursday 22nd November 2012

Welcome to the annual thanksgiving celebration at Connaught. The first thanksgiving celebration was in north America in 1621. It was only officially recognised in 1863, when Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation making it a national festival. This almost certainly makes Thanksgiving the most modern cultural festival that we celebrate at Connaught Hall.

And it is a festival that has a timeless relevance: for when times are good, it is all too easy to take for granted the very many people, things, and opportunities that have made us happy and safe; but when times are hard, we can find ourselves all too ready to complain about the things we feel we should have but do not. Thanksgiving reminds us that we should simply stop, recognise all the great things we do have, and the wonderful friends and relationships we all have in our lives, and say a heartfelt “thanks” for them. That way, we can be more content both in times of plenty and in times of hardship.

Thanksgiving is a time for family, friends and togetherness. North Americans living in Hall this Thanksgiving might be physically far from their homes and families. But I hope being with your Connaught family this year can go towards making you feel just at home here.

Whilst being thankful for the people and opportunities that have brought us to where we are in our lives today, we should also think about our neighbours who might need more help or support from us. Whether they are fellow residents here in hall, students at college, or strangers, we can do more to make others happier and safer and in so doing, cause other people to be thankful for our kindness.
So let me leave you tonight with an exhortation to spend a few moments reflecting on what we are truly thankful for, and what we can do this week to give others cause for thanks, too.