Turkeys and cornucopias and pilgrim hats. Seasoned stuffing hot from the oven. Creamed onions, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie. Uncles and aunts and cousins to play with. Grandmothers and grandfathers with family gathered round. Children waiting for the Great Pumpkin rise over Charlie Brown's pumpkin patch and dads watching college football. A day to relax and maybe rake leaves in the afternoon.
But Thanksgiving? How much will our celebrations on Thanksgiving have to do with giving thanks?
A glance at the first Thanksgiving brings it all back. On December 21, 1620 the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth rock. Through the dead of winter the colony struggled with poor and meager food, strenuous labor, a biting wind that chilled to the bone, and the ravages of disease. Nearly half the 102 Mayflower passengers did not live to see Spring refresh Cape Cod Bay.
But God sent Indians--Samoset, Squanto, and Massasoit--to help the English settlers plant and hunt and fish. The bountiful harvest that autumn led Governor Bradford to invite the Indians to celebrate God's goodness. Ninety tall braves accepted the invitation to join the Pilgrims in a feast of Thanksgiving to God for His blessings.
The Pilgrims lived close enough to the soil to know how dependent they were on God's Providence. They had learned to thank God in the midst of the bitterness of winter past. And they were quick to thank Him during abundant blessing, too.
We teach our children to say "please" and "thank you" as the rudiments of courtesy, yet it is so easy to be rude and unthinking toward God. How often we forget to gratefully acknowledge His goodness towards us.
This Thanksgiving let your prayers and expressions of love rise toward your Heavenly Father.
"What shall I render unto the Lord for all His benefits toward me? I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord." (Psalm 116:12-13)