A housewife in 1930 writes:
“Thanksgiving Day approaches again, but how can we be thankful in our community where hail and drouth and other ills of agriculture have given us a lean year and empty purses. I am not irreverent when I say that it is not easy for me to lift my voice in thankfulness and praise.”
While it must always remain a personal matter with our friend and with each of us whether or not we find cause for thanksgiving in what has happened to us, yet we suggest that there are good reasons for gratitude which apply to all of us.
Thanksgiving Day is not a time only for giving thanks for larger crops and herds, better prices, and more cash in the bank. If it were, it would be a poor occasion–pitifully poor. But it is also a time for measuring those things that feed and clothe the spirit–the unseen things that are most able to make life more abundant. And what are they? Love that we give and that we receive; the sacrifices that grow out of love; freedom to think, to speak and to do; the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; the guarantee of opportunity for all; the knowledge that each day is a new day, and each year a new year, bringing new hope; the assurance that God is still in his world, and that Christ’s teachings are still able to save it. In our land, these are gifts which all of us have, and how could there be greater?
We find a helpful suggestion for Thanksgiving in these words from Paul’s letter to the Corinthians: While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, and the things which are not seen are eternal.
So wrote the housewife at the beginning of the Great Depression. Little did she know that she would have to remind herself of her words for years to come.
It’s a nearly not-to-be-believed world we’re living in these days. It feels as if daily we’re told of something else we’re not allowed to do. Lately it’s been warnings about Thanksgiving, with some governing officials calling for strict regulation, or its cancellation altogether. Whether you choose to spend the day alone, gather with family, wear a mask between every bite of turkey or chow down a slice of pie with a naked face is up to you and none of my business.
But to cancel a holiday, especially one known as Thanksgiving? How can anyone do that? I’m thinking far too many people don’t understand the point of the day anymore.
I dare say we all have circumstances that frustrate us and have made our lives look much different than last year. If we focused on that, we might not feel like celebrating. Isn’t Thanksgiving more than that, though?
It reminds me of those lines from The Grinch Who Stole Christmas (with an obvious change in holiday) “What if Thanksgiving, he thought, doesn’t come from a store? What if Thanksgiving… perhaps… means a little bit more!” Thanksgiving is more than those tangible things like a turkey, football, traditions or even family. It’s about gratitude and thankfulness for the “unseen things that are most able to make life more abundant” and that can’t be cancelled or taken away.
For most of us, maybe as we never have before, our focus this year will be on the deeper, less temporal reasons we have to be thankful to God.