Today is the fourth Thursday in November. That means it is Thanksgiving Day in the United States.
In 1621, the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians shared in one of the first Thanksgiving celebrations in the colonies. For the next two centuries days of thanksgiving were celebrated by individual colonies and states.
In 1863 President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed that a national Thanksgiving Day be held on the final Thursday in November. Thanksgiving Day was celebrated on that day every year until 1939, when Franklin D. Roosevelt moved the holiday up a week in an attempt to spur retail sales during the Great Depression. There was much opposition to Roosevelt’s plan, known as Franksgiving, and in 1941 the president signed a bill making Thanksgiving the fourth Thursday in November.
This past week I visited several people who are homebound or hospitalized. A common thread in all our conversations was thanksgiving. Repeatedly I heard expressions of gratitude and an acknowledgement that we are blessed beyond our imagination.
Like many others I will gather with family and friends for an abundant feast today. We will eat a lot and watch seemingly endless football games. All of this is important because it nurtures our relationships, but thanksgiving requires more than a passive attitude.
I am thankful for my family who love me and has always supported me. Therefore I do everything possible to provide whatever they need.
I am thankful for God who loves me unconditionally. Therefore I devote my time, energy, and talents to serve God’s people in the Church and throughout the world.
I am thankful for good health. Therefore I attempt to take advantage of opportunities to learn and explore.
I am thankful for the freedoms that I enjoy in this country. Therefore I will strive to protect and preserve them for everyone.
I am grateful for all my resources. Therefore I seek to use them not only for myself but for the benefit of humankind.
It would be impossible to list all the things for which I am thankful. There are so many and so many which I simply take for granted. If you are interested, you can take a look at a few of them in the postscript.
Last Sunday Rev. Bill Britt, Senior Minister at Peachtree Road United Methodist Church, said “We don’t give God thanks for our circumstances. We give God thanks in our circumstances.” I think that is what the Apostle Paul meant when he said, “In everything give thanks for this is the will of God for you.” All things that happen to us are not God’s will but God does desire us to always have an attitude of gratitude.
Author and publisher Fred De Witt Amburgh said, “None is more impoverished than the one who has no gratitude. Gratitude is a currency that we can mint for ourselves, and spend without fear of bankruptcy.” Thanksgiving is not self centered or passive. People with grateful hearts give. According to philanthropist W. Clement Stone, “If you are really thankful, what do you do? You share.”
Thanksgiving is, after all, a word of action. In other words, it is “thanks-living.”
P.S. Other things for which I am thankful:
A good cup of coffee in the morning
Grandchildren (and their parents)
Ice cream (especially on weekends)
A wife who love sports (and me)
A safe neighborhood
The internet (when it works)
A comfortable pair of shoes
Opportunities to travel and see the beauty of God’s earth and its people
An electric car that is fun to drive
Any automobile that gets me where I need to go
All the folks who volunteer in the church and other helping organizations
The Atlanta Braves (wait until next year)
People who give generously of their time, talent, and money for the benefit of others
The United Methodist Church that has nurtured me and my family
My wife’s love for flowers and the beauty of her garden
Music- everything from classical to blues
My children and grandchildren who roll their eyes at my corny jokes but love me any way
The comics and their creators- especially Get Fuzzy (Darby Conley), Overboard (Chip Dunham), Pearls Before Swine (Stephan Pastis)
People who are positive about life no matter the circumstances
A warm house and a comfortable bed at night
Good (clean) jokes
Gifted preachers who work at their craft and deliver meaningful and challenging sermons
Church choirs who work hard to learn their music and offer it in worship
The people of Peachtree Road United Methodist Church for embracing me and my wife
Rainy days and Mondays- and every day whatever the weather
My children’s spouses who love them and enrich our family