Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I love that it’s about fellowship and gratitude and not about buying presents for people. Yes, I fully realize that Christmas isn’t about the presents, but in our culture it’s very hard to not get caught up in the busyness and the gift-giving.
So I love Thanksgiving. It’s a break in the semester. It’s one of the few times I have days at home by myself to get things done. I get to cook and spend time with my family.
We get an early start with Thanksgiving. Way back when the dinosaurs ruled the earth, I was in this club called Regina at Harding University. Regina has a brother club, Chi Sigs, and every year we have Thanksgiving dinner together on the last Sunday of classes before the Thanksgiving break. Since I’m a sponsor now, we still get to go and spend wonderful time with some of my favorite people in the world.
Later, we’ll do the family thing. My grandmother loved Thanksgiving too. Every year, we would take turns saying what we were thankful for and every year we would sing The Doxology together. She would often have someone read Abraham Lincoln’s proclamation for a national day of Thanksgiving.
The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consiousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.
I really do love Thanksgiving, but not just the holiday.
The older I get, the more important the concept of thanksgiving means to me. Let’s face it: life’s hard. I’m way too old to think that I can learn something or do something that will create some picture perfect outcome in life. We live in a sinful, fallen, out-of-whack world and it will always be that way. Being present enough to be thankful for the little things is important; without gratitude for the blessings that we have, it’s too easy to be overcome by the things that go wrong. If the people who lived through the Civil War could stop and be thankful, so can I.
So this month, I’m posting about Thanksgiving. Every day.
November 1: I’m thankful for friends. Real friends. Friends who share my burdens and trust me with theirs. Friends who think deeply and care about our church, our campus, and our culture. Friends who not only help me do what’s right, but who help me be honest about it when I don’t. I have wonderful friends who are nothing short of a gift from God.
November 2: I’m thankful for the women who fought long and hard
to secure the right for women to vote in our country. Please do not take this privilege for granted. People died so you could have a say in how our country is ruled. Yes, God is sovereign and no matter who wins any election, he will rule the lives of those who love him, but please go and vote today. And if you haven’t seen it, go watch Iron Jawed Angels.