by Tom Wacaster
It has been recorded in the pages of history, and the annals of Congress, that this nation of ours should set aside and recognize one day a year as “Thanksgiving Day.” I cannot remember a single year that has ever passed wherein I was denied the opportunity to observe this national holiday, and most of the time those days of celebration were spent with family. This Thursday will be my 67th such occasion, even though the first dozen years are not as vivid in my memory as the past dozen. “Thanksgiving Day”! What do those words mean to you? What thoughts and memories do they conjure up in your mind? To some, this day is one of back-to-back football games, early morning Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade on television, and the smell of turkey cooking in the oven, and left overs at days end. To others it is nothing more than an extended weekend, an extra day at the office, or an opportunity to spend some time in a lease waiting for that deer to drop by your way so you can “bag” a six pointer, or tell about the one that got away. The talk show hosts are abuzz with the news that some retail giants are planning on remaining open on Thanksgiving Day in order to beat the rush on Black Friday. I suppose that is their business (literally), but personally I find it somewhat sad that this one occasion in the year when our nation should, as a nation, stop and give thanks to the Father who has blessed us so richly, is quickly becoming just another shopping day for bargains. Maybe the trend to open the doors for business is a reflection on where we as a nation are putting our priorities. It may be that Thanksgiving Day will find you at Walmart, Macy, or the Northeast Mall fighting the crowds for a bargain or two. Who am I to deprive you of either “beating the crowd” or “joining the crowd”? So, wherever you happen to find yourself this year when our national Thanksgiving Day arrives, why not stop and think for a moment or two about the very words used to describe this fourth Thursday of November.
Thanksgiving! Permit me to divide the single word into two words: “thanks” and “giving.” And what shall we say about “thanks”? “Thanks” is the expression of gratitude to another; a recognition that blessings received derive from some greater source than ourselves. The very existence of this special day on our calendar implies that we, the citizens of the United States, were once cognizant of a higher source of blessing than our own initiative or ingenuity. The original Thanksgiving Day proclamation saw fit to express gratitude “with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peacefully to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.” But it seems that today the God of heaven has been replaced with the god of humanism, and thanks once offered to the Almighty has been replaced with self exaltation for our great American know-how and efficiency.
Consider next the word “giving.” Thanks held to oneself is not gratitude; it is ingratitude. Though I may be grateful to another for some good deed done for me, unless expressed, the giver knows not if you are grateful. I wonder how many tables will be spread, admired, eaten and digested this Thanksgiving Day without one word of thanks being given to the God of heaven Who blessed us with such abundance? On the other hand, maybe I really don't want to know.
Finally, there is “day.” It is singular, not plural. Though one day has been set aside in that original Thanksgiving Day Proclamation “to be devoted by the people of these states to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be,” we do not think it was the intention of President Washington, nor the Congress that approved the holiday, to limit our thanksgiving to one day in the year. Beloved, God has not set aside only one day to bless His creatures, nor should we set aside only one day out of the year to offer thanks unto Him from whom all blessings flow. The dawn of every morning should find us in reverent prayer, expressing our gratitude for the opportunity to witness yet another sunrise, to get out of bed and enjoy the day's activities, for our health and freedoms we enjoy, and the fact that He in Whom we live, and move, and have our very being, has granted unto us THIS DAY, one in 365, to experience the beauties of life about us.
Thanks-Giving-Day! May we be grateful for all it entails, and give rise to a deeper appreciation for what we have, not only today, but every day of the year.