Tomorrow, in the United States of America, it is Thanksgiving – so, “Happy Thanksgiving” to all my American friends!
On the fourth Thursday in November Americans gather together to enjoy family, feasting, and football. It really is a big deal. Unless you have visited America during Thanksgiving, you may not appreciate it. It is an important time of year and very much family oriented. In fact it is estimated that 47 million people will travel to make a Thanksgiving dinner! There is also much turkey and pumpkin to be had!
Australia has no equivalent holiday. But I think I like the Thanksgiving tradition. It is far less commercial most other American holidays, and it’s all about family – just being together and giving thanks for what you have. I really like that idea, not enough people take the time to do this; there should be more of it!
The first Thanksgiving is believed to have occurred in 1691 when the pilgrims in Plymouth (Massachusetts) invited the local native Indians to join the celebration of their first successful harvest. However, the tradition as we now know it wasn’t born until 1863, when President Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day be held each November. If you would like to read more about the history of thanksgiving, click here.
Thanksgiving celebrations are big and the biggest has to be the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, held in New York City. This event dates back to 1924 and has been televised since 1952. Millions watch this 3-hour parade and enjoy the spectacle of the elaborately decorated floats as they wind their way through the streets of Manhattan.
Thanksgiving generally marks the beginning of the “holiday season” in the USA. It also marks one of the biggest sale events of the year – the black Friday sales, occurring the day after Thanksgiving – and signals the beginning of the Christmas shopping season. This day is generally a holiday for many as well, so a long weekend for most and a good deal of shopping is to be had if you can stand the crowds.
So, putting aside the parades and the sales and getting back to the essence of Thanksgiving, I would like to encourage you to see the blessings in your life and give thanks for what you have; I have much to be grateful for (even though I find many things lacking in my life – it’s still a blessing), I also give thanks for friends, especially those recently found (a benefit of my most recent adventures) and of course, for my family!
I would like to sign off with a prayer – whether you are religious or not (ignore the mention of God, or substitute your own deity if you prefer) – the sentiment is what is most important:
Prayer of Thanksgiving by Vienna Cobb Anderson
God of all blessings,
source of all life,
giver of all grace:
We thank you for the gift of life:
for the breath
that sustains life,
for the food of this earth
that nurtures life,
for the love of family and friends
without which there would be no life.
We thank you for the mystery of creation:
for the beauty
that the eye can see,
for the joy
that the ear may hear,
for the unknown
that we cannot behold filling the universe with wonder,
for the expanse of space
that draws us beyond the definitions of our selves.
We thank you for setting us in communities:
who nurture our becoming,
who love us by choice,
for companions at work,
who share our burdens and daily tasks,
who welcome us into their midst,
for people from other lands
who call us to grow in understanding,
who lighten our moments with delight,
for the unborn,
who offer us hope for the future.
We thank you for this day:
and one more day to love,
and one more day to work for justice and peace,
and one more person to love
and by whom be loved,
for your grace
and one more experience of your presence,
for your promise:
to be with us,
to be our God,
and to give salvation.
For these, and all blessings,
we give you thanks, eternal, loving God,
through Jesus Christ we pray. Amen.