Each year, the fourth Thursday in November, we celebrate the American holiday of Thanksgiving. It was Abraham Lincoln who proclaimed, “This national day of Thanksgiving and praise is for our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.” Lincoln deemed Thanksgiving a federal holiday in 1863 during the midst of the American Civil War. Did he have a greater intention with his proclamation, other than stuffing ourselves with the best of mother and grandmother’s juicy turkey and side-dish concoctions? I wonder how President Lincoln envisioned Thanksgiving celebrations down through the ages. My guess is that our present day traditions are quite different than he imagined.
While I could take you down a historical view filled with Pilgrims and Native Americans at the very first Thanksgiving, I won’t. Instead, I would like to share my thoughts of “Having a thankful meal during a time of War.” While a literal war was taking place when Thanksgiving became official, what about our present day? I am reminded that as we continue to fight the war on terrorism, many holiday chefs are already planning for this annual family meal. The fact that we can continue to look forward to anything during a war is pretty amazing. Our spirits seem to lift at the thought of warm homes filled with the scent of seasoned turkey and the thick waft of pumpkin pie with whipped cream. Kitchens themselves anticipate food masterpieces that will fill the bellies of cousins, siblings, moms and dads. Even the family dog is rounding out his spot under the table, where he will await any crumbs that Thanksgiving fate gives. Parades, naps and football will follow, as the day fades into night.
Some will spend the day at work, hoping for a heaping plate of turkey on their lunch break. Many will eat alone, in front of the television. Some families will have an empty chair at their table, where the strong patriarch once sat. Soldiers half way around the world will sit in chow halls, while their families try to continue traditions back home. There are those who choose to serve in shelters and soup kitchens to give something back. Still others, who once had large homes and Thanksgiving traditions of their own, will barely satisfy their hunger. No matter our traditions, or where we find ourselves, we must be vigilant in remembering and recognizing that wars are all around. They may be physical, emotional and even spiritual. Remaining thankful during these wars and striving to always do our part in giving is exactly what Thanksgiving is…..thanks and giving.
This Thanksgiving, do not concern yourselves for things you don’t have, but the things and people you do have. Don’t say, “Happy Thanksgiving.” BE thanksgiving; for you may calm someone’s war.
The unthankful heart... discovers no mercies; but let the thankful heart sweep through the day and, as the magnet finds the iron, so it will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings!”
-Henry Ward Beecher