What is Thanksgiving?
Ask any group of school children what Thanksgiving is, and you are likely to hear stories of Pilgrims on the brink of starvation, rescued by the Natives who were living in the area, lots of food and feasting and rejoicing. This is the commonly understood First Thanksgiving, and it makes for a good story and decorating scheme for the table.
But what is Thanksgiving, at its heart and core?
Thanksgiving is literally Giving Thanks, it is Gratitude, and when you allow yourself to be transformed by this attitude, Thanksgiving is a way of being. It is looking at your life, seeing all the blessings God has granted you, and in grateful rejoicing for this abundance, seeking to share grace with those around you.
There are different ways to exhibit this grace and gratitude. For some, it is volunteering at a shelter or a community dinner on Thanksgiving Day itself, or perhaps on the days around the holiday. For one of my sisters, it is in her insistence that every Thanksgiving each of us around the table says something we are thankful for.
Thanksgiving, though, is more than one day. For people of faith, Thanksgiving is constant, a perpetual response to God's grace, without ceasing. For the faithful, Thanksgiving is every day.
I hope you all have a lovely holiday with family and friends, and in your celebrations, devote some time to think of people around the world in different situations. I was listening to a radio report about fire refugees in California. Hundreds of people, strangers, were gathered together in a shelter, resources were scarce, but for one little boy, it was his birthday. Not wanting his birthday to be remembered in pain and bitterness, the residents of the shelter found supplies to make a birthday cake, to give him presents. In the pain and fear and uncertainty caused by the fires, these nearly 400 people celebrated life together. The little boy was overjoyed to have so many people sing to him - and all the adults were thankful, too, for a spot of normalcy in the crisis. The Red Cross volunteers were in tears. It may have been an impromptu birthday party, but the celebration was certainly one of Thanksgiving.
Peace, Blessings, and Happy Days of Thanksgiving
~Reverend Andrea Joy Holroyd