*** It has become a tradition in my family that, on the two days of the year when we sit down to a specially prepared feast, that I make a short speech about the holiday. I don’t know that it is a hallowed tradition – certainly not when I consider the “shut up and let us eat” looks I get – but it has continued for a few years now. Oh, and this post was drafted nearly a week ago, and was supposed to be edited over the weekend; however, I don’t seem to be any faster at preparing for the feast than the Puritans were. They were also preoccupied for at least a week. Sigh… – RS ***
This is the day in the United States of America* when we give thanks.
But… Thanks for what? And to who? These are the two questions to which I think many have misplaced the answers – or never received them in the first place.
So – answers. Or at least my answers. Yours may be different, or you may have additional reasons for giving thanks on this day. Absolutely nothing wrong about that, if such is the case.
First off, this is a day of giving thanks for the sheer abundance that surrounds us. Here we sit in a warm house, at a table with enough food on it to satisfy the hunger of every person here (even that of the Marine Corporal – or so I hope). The Pilgrims at Plymouth Rock were celebrating the very same thing, and it had a special resonance with them, after that first terrible winter spent on a cold and damp ship, with insufficient food, watching as a full half of them died without ever setting foot on the soil of their new home. We have an abundance that they would have been incapable of imagining, but we give thanks for the very same reason.
The second reason for giving of our thanks – well, this one, to me, is the more important one.
We give of our thanks to those who made this abundance possible. Thanks to our ancestors, wherever they came from, and whenever they came. Their work molded this country into the cornucopia that it is – a cornucopia that exists nowhere else on this planet. Thanks to the people already living in the lands where a ragtag band of Puritans fetched up, the Wampanoag who welcomed that rather odd tribe, giving freely of their hard-won knowledge of how to survive and prosper in their new home.
We give of our thanks who continue to make this abundance possible; those who farm our food, mine our resources, make the goods that we (almost literally) have pouring out of our ears, ensure that those goods reach us**, and keep us safe on this day and every day.
Thank you. Thank you. THANK YOU!
Finally, and this may not apply to all of my readers today, but the celebrants of the “First Thanksgiving” had another one to thank. You may not believe in a Creator, or not the same Creator as those Puritans (actually, I don’t either) – but we should remember that the days of feasting were also dedicated to giving thanks to that being. It is not a wrong idea for us to do the same. So, we give thanks to the ultimate Creator of what we have been given in the past, what we are given on this day, and what we shall receive in the future.
* Our Canadian friends up north also have a Thanksgiving Day – which has already passed. Being the sober and rational people they are, and seeing not much to be thankful for when various body parts are in the process of freezing off, theirs is on the first Monday in October. So a very belated Happy Thanksgiving to any Canadian readers out there.
** This applies especially to two of the people at my table this day – may they survive and retain their sanity tomorrow, on Black Friday!
*** You may have noticed some anachronisms in the photograph that I used here (kindly supplied by by Timothy Borkert on Pixabay. My first reaction was “What? Pilgrim and Wampanoag children eating off of cafeteria trays with stainless steel cutlery?” I thought again – and decided that it was appropriate; the giving of thanks is for all times.