I really fell in love with Thanksgiving in the first grade. The teacher told us to put away our books and listen. She began telling us a story, using cutouts and maps, about some people called Pilgrims who wore black clothing trimmed in white, lived in log cabins and ate lots of food on a day we would soon celebrate as "Thanksgiving." I thought that Thanksgiving was a day when the family ate turkey, dressing, pumpkin pie and I would fall asleep in the living room while the old people talked a lot. Later on, when I was a teenager, it was more of the same with the addition of watching a football game on a black and white television set.
I know that most of us have read about or have been taught the story of the 102 Pilgrims who, in 1620, left England for the New World. Out of the original travelers, only 50 survived. A piece of a diary reads, "We were ragged in apparel and some little better than half-naked." I also believe that most of us have questioned more than once, "How could anyone call a time of loss, tragedy and unbelievable hardship Thanksgiving?"
I do not think that any of those remarkable men and women thanked God because they had lived through the disaster, but I believe that they thanked God because He had saved them for something greater than they could have imagined. Of course, we must remember their sacrifice, courage and commitment to life! We must also have this day of celebration to understand that we, too, have to live through a history filled with hostility, moral decay and not many guarantees for a better tomorrow.
As you read this, Thanksgiving will have come and gone for another year, but if we have been thinking ahead, the fridge is filled with some wonderful and glorious leftovers that should last until Monday. Granted, the pie is getting a bit on the crusty side and the turkey and dressing taste a bit gamey, but who's going to fuss?
We will have celebrated with family who traveled back home and, as always, forgotten a box of valuables that we'll put in the mail next week. Yes, we watched every football game available on the big screen knock-your-socks-off color television. Our dog Downgirlsit has had enough exercise with the kids to help her sleep for a month, I hope. Julie and I will now focus on Christmas: getting the stuff out of the attic, decorating to the nines and polishing up our credit cards for the gift-getting spree. The year is not over just yet, folks.
The conversation is not over. In our time, we can talk about supermarkets overflowing with food from every corner of the world, refrigerators for the extras, eventual medical help for everyone and a lifestyle most of our planet will never experience. We also have a historical memory we must not only cherish but embrace or it could be lost in time.
I absolutely believe that every time a baby was born to that little colony of survivors, there was a celebration! Every time one more cabin was built, they fell to their knees and gave thanks! When baskets of a good harvest were set aside for storage just in case there might be another harsh winter, they sang songs of praise! I am positive that the colony never took anything for granted, believed they deserved only the best or could always count on one more good day after another because they were entitled to the best!
That historical memory is this: those early Pilgrims made a difference and we will make a difference too! As the Lord God Almighty had a plan for those faithful men and women, so does the Lord God Almighty have a plan for the faithful in this generation so we can have a generation yet to come! In the plans of God, there are no lost moments, no wasted efforts and no forgotten people! That is a fact!
In the words of the Psalmist who penned Psalm 8, my favorite, "What are we that You take notice of us? And who am I that You would care even for the likes of me?" The Lord God answers, "You have been made in my image, and I have crowned you with glory and honor. I have given you this world!" Then, we shout with joy, "0 Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Your Name in all the earth!"
Many Happy Thanksgivings yet to be celebrated!