The Focus at Thanksgiving
The many special times and seasons we celebrate have their particular focus. Birthdays, weddidng anniversaries, Easter, Christmas: all have something unique at their core, and our mind fixes on that essential element when we c0mmemorate the occasion. This month we celebrate Thanksgiving. In the national psyche, this day has its collective focus, which, more often than not, is a far cry from what the real emphasis ought to be. As the day approaches, it would be good for us to take a few moments to reflect on our individual focus for this major holiday.
From years of observing the preparations for celebrating Thanksgiving, I would hazard a guess that we give an inordinate amount of attention to the food–particularly the turkey. It’s as if a synonym for Thanksgiving is “turkey.” I have even heard some individuals jokingly refer to the day as “Turkey Day.” The build-up begins days, even weeks, ahead of time. The Consumer Protection Agency gives out the bad news about how much more the turkey will cost this year than it did the year before, and we are also given the calculation of how much more the meal itself will cost, compared to the previous year. It’s safe to say that despite the cost, or, this year, because of the cost, the focus will be on the food—the kind of menu we’ll have and the toppings and trimmings. We envision a beautifully set table with the well-dressed bird in the center. But why can’t it be the gratitude and praise that we anticipte as the day approaches?
What did the Piilgrims, the original celebrants of Thanksgiving, have in mind? What was their focus? Without a doubt, it was on giving thanks, simply expressing gratitude to God for having their lives spared after they were battered by a harsh year in the new land. They were grateful for the blessing of having something to eat. The day was not about food, but on an appreciative spirit. We, too, should come to the Thanksgiving table with a spirit of personal thankfulness for our blessings: for family and friends, for community, for our country in which we can live peaceful and godly lives, and, yes, for food, generally accessible and usually plentiful. In these times, fraught with challenges at home and abroad, we have a lot to be thankful for. I’m not saying that we should allow the unkindness and mean-spiritedness pervasive in the land to make us feel like being ascetics and deny ourselves the enjoyment of Thanksgiving Day. Rather, we need to experience it as a day with spiritual significance, a day to give thanks from our hearts.
Harvard Health magazine states that giving thanks can make us happier, that being grateful can “lift the spirits.” The findings from positive psychology research show that “gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions.” There is personal benefit, then, in focusing on being grateful for what we have, including the seasonal delectable food. So what if we don’t have an elaborate feast to dive into on Thanksgiving Day. We can eat and drink what we have with a thankful heart. Scripture makes us aware that we can keep the thankfulness alive in us by giving thanks “in everything” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). The emotional benefits of being thankful carry on long after the special day has passed. On Thanksgiving Day, think of the things you’re grateful for. In your mind, set them all in a row, offer them up to God, and let gratitude wash over your heart.
“Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings.”
William Arthur Ward
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Amen and amen!
Good to get an Amen from you. I hope your Thanksgiving will be joyful and praiseworthy. JN
Fartema Mae Fagin
“Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings.” William Arthur Ward
This quote is powerful. There’s a song called ‘Count your blessings, name them one by one’. So much do I have to be thankful for during this Thanksgiving season. However, this season seems to be overshadowed by the rush of Christmas decorations and fanfare. I recently spent a couple of days in the local hospital with my youngest adult son. Praise God it was not Covid, but a flu bug. I pleaded with the medical team of experts for an early release. On day two this conversation took place.
“We’re going home today.” I told the nurse.
“Oh, you have that kind of faith, huh.”
“Yes, I do.” I assured her.
Blessed Assurance, he was discharged. He is now recovering at home. Happy early Thanksgiving.
I like the quotation also. It has a lot of meaning for application to our lives.
I hope Alton is doing better. Your faith won the victory on his behalf.
Happy Thanksgiving. Stay in faith. JN