Thanksgiving has always been a puzzling holiday for me. Feasts of thanksgiving to God, or gods, have been a part of human history for a very long time. Our American Thanksgiving has it’s origins in an improbable myth of happy Pilgrims and happy Indians joyfully gathered at a feast that is reenacted each fall at elementary schools all across the country.
I suppose that one could offer a psychological explanation of our fascination with the day and it’s story as a mild form of admission that this happy, peaceful melding of European and native cultures is the way it was supposed to have been, and by remembering it the way we do, we hope to, perhaps, change the way it really was, or, at least, disremember the way it really turned out. On a more optimistic note, it could even be a way for us to remind ourselves of how we might begin living into the future.
For my part, I am grateful that this most secular of all holidays is the one holiday that has not yet become a commercialized free-for-all. It still remains a day for gathering, whether at home, the local rescue mission or some other place, to eat, visit, tell stories and remember that for which we give grateful thanks. The Macy’s parade and a football game have become permanent markers of the day, taking their places right along with turkeys and pies. It may the be kickoff to Black Friday when the mythical gentle merging of cultures becomes the reality of shoving hostilities at big box stores, but that can wait. For the moment, at least, we can pause and be thankful. As we prepare to joyfully welcome family into our home, I am also grateful for the years that we had a Thanksgiving feast at church. People came because they really wanted to be there, really enjoyed each other’s company, and really filled the place with great food. There was something very special about Thanksgiving as community.
May each of you be blessed this Thanksgiving Day, and may each of us give thanks to God our Father for all his gifts so freely bestowed upon us.