Who gets your thanks this season?Published 12:19am Sunday, November 20, 2011
In a few days, our country will pause to give thanks for the many blessings that we have. But it’s important to stop and think about something — Whom are we thanking?
Many of us were taught that the first Thanksgiving occurred in 1621 when the Pilgrims celebrated their own survival after their first harsh winter in America and a successful harvest that followed in the fall.
Although the initial Thanksgiving feast probably resembles very little of our modern version, the idea of giving thanks is one that cuts through generations.
The celebration was marked throughout America’s early years, though sporadically and mostly by states in the Northeast.
President Abraham Lincoln formalized the American holiday by making Thanksgiving an official national holiday.
And it was Lincoln who clearly put the meaning in perspective when he wrote his 1863 proclamation which included:
“… No human counsel hath devised, nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the most high God, who while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.
“It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American people. I do, therefore, invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens.”
Lincoln delivered these words at the height of the Civil War, a time that certainly turned many American souls looking toward the heavens, both to give thanks and ask for peace and blessings.
Today, however, as most of us think of Thanksgiving, we are far more likely to think about food traditions and shopping exploits than truly giving thanks to our Creator.
Such commercialization begins fairly early in life.
The celebration has been recreated with millions of paper-plate turkeys and grocery-sack Native American costumes in kindergartens and preschools all across our land.
But through all of the cute, construction paper feathers many of us tend to forget the most important aspect of thanksgiving.
We all know we’re supposed to be thankful, but aside from the quick blessing of the food, it’s easy to skip over the heavenly base of this season.
Clearly we all remember — or try to remember — that Jesus is the reason for the season when it comes to Christmas, after all, it is his birthday.
But how many of us allow ourselves to worry more about getting our special holiday food fix than truly giving thanks?
How many of us are more focused on Black Friday sales than simple reverence for the Creator of the universe?
I’m certainly guilty as charged.
This holiday season I made a simple vow to myself: I will not forget who deserves all of the thanks for everything in life.
Kevin Cooper is publisher of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3539 or firstname.lastname@example.org.