Thanksgiving is NOT Turkey Day. Okay, we eat lots of turkey on Thanksgiving, but it’s NOT Turkey Day. More than the bird on the menu, Thanksgiving is first and foremost about our gratitude to God for what He has provided.
Yes, the day is a reminder of the cooperation and friendship between the Indians and Pilgrims, but it’s not about that either. It began with the Pilgrims inviting the Indians to their celebration of thanks to God for His provisions. They had plenty of trials, but they were still grateful.
We spend a lot of time preparing the food. So much so, we are overwhelmed with the bounty on our tables. There is excitement over family and friends coming together. And, advertisers tell us it’s all about the turkey. If we forget to be thankful, then the focus is on the food.
At our home, we begin our annual feast with my husband, Dick, giving a corporate prayer of gratitude, thanking God for His many blessings. We always end the meal with a family tradition where each person gives a personal story of why they are blessed and thankful. We used to do this before the meal, but our food would get cold, so we moved it to the end of the meal.
Sometimes there is laughter. Kids are always sure to surprise you when they share why they’re grateful. Teens can be another matter altogether. One year, a cranky teen, sitting at our table laden with scrumptious food and surrounded by people who love her (I’ll not say who it was, but I’m sure my daughter Joy remembers this), said she didn’t have one thing to be thankful for! So much for the teen years. If you have a cranky teen at your Thanksgiving table, you can be thankful that cranky teens grow up and become loving, grateful adults.
Sometimes, our thankfulness brings tears. Last Thanksgiving was difficult for our family, because my mother passed away three weeks earlier. We were sad and thankful at the same time. I remember another Thanksgiving where we gathered at Jackie’s (another daughter’s) home. She asked that we all say why we were thankful for someone at the table. We pretty much bawled through the entire thing.
Most Thanksgivings, we have guests other than our immediate family. A few years ago, Karen, a business acquaintance of ours, had just moved to Colorado and shared the festive meal with us. My granddaughter Ally, who was seven at the time, sat next to Karen at the table, and when it came time for Ally, to say what she was thankful for, she said she was thankful for her new friend, Karen. We bawled again. Okay, we’re a bunch of crybabies.
Another Thanksgiving, our dear friend, Guy, survived a year-long battle with cancer. He has spent many Thanksgivings with us and was very familiar with our tradition. When it came time for him to say why he was thankful, he whipped out a pre-written note and read us a beautiful, thankful, message of God’s blessings. Yes, there wasn’t a dry eye at the table.
This Thanksgiving, make it a thankful day, not Turkey Day. Thank God, especially in your most difficult times… God is providing.
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