Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Remember When . . . Thanksgiving Was Optional?

I have either forgotten a lot I learned about Thanksgiving as a kid, or my schools focused more on the first Thanksgiving than the history of it. Because I've learned so much with my 4-year-old this year . . .

The sermon this past weekend touched on the Biblical perspective, and how there were Old Testament commands for giving thanks to God, as well as New Testament guidelines. I really love that our country has a history of setting aside a day for this--that some of the first settlers were here to seek free worship of God, and that they honored him for his faithfulness, in spite of the hardships.

I find it even more inspiring that there were people like Sarah Hale who cared enough about this tradition to fight for it. She first succeeded in getting each state to recognize the day, then, eventually, convinced President Lincoln to have the nation honor it as one. At a time when the country was torn by war, this was a monumental moment, one that helped us heal.

In some ways, it's really easy to imagine that day when it was only a state-recognized affair, and one that they often neglected. In some ways, Thanksgiving is almost a "second-rate" holiday to modern people--it doesn't require presents, and in fact is often lost in the anticipation for Black Friday. It only rates as a chance to host an elaborate meal.

But I remember my own childhood, when I sat back in my room one Thanksgiving smelling that wonderful turkey, knowing that soon my family would be coming. I remember spending some time writing a story about a girl named Felicia, which I knew meant something like "happy." I remember cutting out some construction paper turkeys for all my family members. And I remember thinking, "This is one of the happiest days in the year. Where everyone just comes over to be together."

I still love the holiday for that very reason. It's a chance to come together with those I love and just be. Be there. Be together. Be thankful for all the Lord has given me.

Thank you, Father, for putting me in a country with such a history of recognizing You.

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