What Is Thanksgiving?
Posted by Amber Lea
For the past couple of weeks I’ve been listening to ads on TV and radio regarding the upcoming Black Friday deals, and this new assault in the retail industry of stores opening on Thanksgiving Day. It makes me sick in my heart!
First, let me say that I have nothing against people wanting to make the most of their hard earned money, in getting “good deals”. But how far are we willing to go?
I have found myself feeling angry and insulted over all this commercialism in our country. Recently I read an article in the Huffington Post titled “If You Shop on Thanksgiving, You Are Part of the Problem” by Matt Walsh. In the article Mr. Walsh talked about commercialism and consumerism. He also mentioned the sacrifices made, whether forced by employers or willingly for extra money, of the workers that will be manning the stores open on Thanksgiving and Black Friday. I realized that this aspect is part of the reason that I felt angry. There is a tone of greed and gluttony in all this, and it just makes me sad.
But as I thought about it, I also realized that there was another part of it that was even deeper rooted in my soul.
I began to think about the meaning of thanksgiving. Not in the traditional sense of what the holiday is for, but what the meaning of being thankful is.
Thankful as defined by Webster’s Dictionary says: “impressed with a sense of kindness received, and ready to acknowledge it; grateful”.
Ok, that’s a pretty simple and straightforward explanation of the word. But what does it look like, what is thankfulness?
This is only a small portion of what I’ve come up with…so far:
Thankfulness is when you haven’t eaten for days and don’t know when, or if you will eat again. Suddenly a truck filled with food pulls up and strangers start giving the food away, for free!
Thankfulness is when you can’t feel your feet anymore because they are so cold from all the holes in your worn out shoes, and a stranger takes you into a store and buys you a pair of warm boots and new socks.
Thankfulness is when you lose a loved one, and your friends rally around you to offer comfort.
Thankfulness is when you feel so alone in the world, like no one cares, and out of the blue a small child appears with a warm smile and hugs you for no reason.
Thankfulness is when the doctor calls to say the test shows it is not cancer.
Thankfulness is having a home to come home to.
Thankfulness is when you watch your family sleeping peacefully, knowing they are safe and secure, and have what they need.
For me personally, three years ago, I learned the true meaning of what it is to be thankful. (Thank-full, so full of thanks that it has to come out, or I’ll explode!) After watching my youngest son die, and then being miraculously revived, I was thankful. For the next twenty days in the hospital, I was thankful for each breath he took, for each time that his heart beat. I was thankful for each moment that I got to spend with him. (Not that I wasn’t thankful before the accident, but the experience changed my perspective, and my life.) I was thankful for the paramedics, the doctors and nurses, the volunteers, family and friends, and total strangers that prayed for us. I was thankful for life itself. And that feeling of gratitude was so overpowering that I had a real need to express it! Not just once and to a few people though. Above all else, I was thankful to God, because I knew He was the One who is in command. He, above all else, deserved my sincerest gratitude. Not just for my son’s life, but for EVERYTHING!
On Thanksgiving Day in 2010, I received the news that my son was expected to make a full recovery from his accident, against all odds. Shortly after that, someone remarked about what a joyful Thanksgiving Day it was. And I remember saying, “From now on, every day is Thanksgiving!
According to our history books, in 1621, the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn harvest feast that is acknowledged today as one of the first Thanksgiving celebrations. Then in 1863, in the midst of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day to be held each November.
Now, in 2013, it seems that most people don’t even know that this holiday was set aside as a special day of remembrance and giving thanks to our Creator for His many blessings. Instead, most often it is now being referred to as “turkey day”, and is used as a marker for the beginning of the frenzied buying season.
As I said earlier, for me, every day is Thanksgiving now. I don’t have to have a turkey on the table and all the trimmings. I don’t need a bunch of fancy decorations, or any splendid parades to say “thank You Lord, for loving me and taking care of everything”.
Thanksgiving Day is still a day that I will choose to gather together with friends and family, to share in being thankful, at least until the holiday is cancelled altogether and simply referred to as “The Day the Madhouse Shopping Begins”. But with all my heart, and my life, I will continue to give my sincerest gratitude to God, every day, for all that He is, and for all that He has so freely given.
Thank You Lord, for helping me to see in my heart, that I have so much to be thankful for, most of all, Your great love!
May all of our hearts be filled with thanksgiving, tomorrow and always.