Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

And I can say that with a clear conscience without fear of the PC police... for now anyway.

Thanksgiving is easily my favorite holiday. I grew up in retail so Christmas wasn't the least bit fun. But Thanksgiving (with Black Friday after of course) was a chance to close shop for a day and spend the time with family. We would often host a big feast at our church with family from out of town, our employees, our neighbors, and the close friends of the family that were, really, family. The advantage of growing up in a small town, I guess. I can't imagine doing something like that today. But I do pray that someday my family can host a Thanksgiving like I remember growing up.

Thanksgiving, to me, isn't the least bit religious. There's no doctrine behind it like the birth or resurrection of my Savior. It's simply a time to stop the world for a moment and enjoy the blessings in our lives, wherever we believe they originated from. And even though the folklore is rooted in Puritan religious tradition, the symbols of the holiday are turkeys, cornucopias, gourds, and leaves in all the fall colors. Anyone can celebrate this holiday. And it's not just Christians who celebrate it.

But yet, there are some who feel that there is a War on Thanksgiving like there is a War on Christmas, with bumper stickers that say "remember to thank HIM". If it was me, I'd play off the slogan of "Keep Christ in Christmas" with something like "Keep the Thanks in Thanksgiving." I don't think there's a reason for the Christian Right to be paranoid about the religious roots of Thanksgiving eroding in the name of Political Correctness. But I do think it's right to remind everyone why we celebrate this holiday. We are blessed in this country. The poorest among us are rich compared to much of the world. We celebrate freedoms that few others share. And despite how screwed up our country can seem at times, thousands still come to this country regularly to seek a better life.

Abraham Lincoln established Thanksgiving as a national holiday in 1863. It is worth it to look to his words to remind us why we celebrate this holiday today.

No human counsel hath devised, nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great
things. They are the gracious gifts of the most high God, who while dealing with
us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.

It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American people. I do, therefore, invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set
apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving
and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens. (full text here)

And while we are called to give thanks for our blessings, we are also called to remember those less fortunate:

And I recommend to them that, while offering up the ascriptions justly due to
him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble
penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to his tender
care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners, or sufferers...

Today, let's remember to Keep the Thanks in Thanksgiving.

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