Thursday, November 11, 2010

Thanksgiving Preparations 11-11-10

Our son enjoying Thanksgiving Dinner

Thanksgiving Preparations 11-10-10

It has begun. The annual Thanksgiving Preparations and Planning season. Have you started?

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. I love our traditional menu, and the other traditions tied to it. It is one of those holidays that has yet to be turned into a reason to buy ridiculous outdoor decorations that blow over in the wind, or requires buying presents.

Do you have favorite childhood memories connected with Thanksgiving? I can remember family get togethers with aunts, uncles, grandparents and cousins. I remember dinner at my dad’s parents. It was a fairly small house, and we’d run tables in a long row from the kitchen to the back room. We were packed in like sardines, but it was still festive and fun.

But what is Thanksgiving about? It’s celebrated as a holiday to give thanks. It dates back to 1621 when the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag tribe got together for three days to celebrate. From that point it was rather sporadic until President George Washington declared November 26 a national Holiday, but even then it wasn’t celebrated regularly. President Lincoln made a National Proclamation making the last Thursday in November a national holiday of thanksgiving and praise.

There were more changes around Thanksgiving when Franklin D. Roosevelt was president. He changed the date again, causing massive confusion. But finally in 1941, Congress passed a low that Thanksgiving would be the fourth Thursday of the month, and that at last became our official Thanksgiving holiday.

Which brings me today. I go shopping in a few days – our regular grocery shopping trip. But, to make sure the budget isn’t terribly affected by everybody’s special request, I start getting some of what I need now. So I’m already planning the menu, and figuring out the shopping list. Jiffy cornbread, peach jello, cool whip, pineapple, mandarin oranges, pecans…you know – all the good stuff for Thanksgiving dinner.

But I’m also trying to spend time thinking about the things I’m grateful for. Edward Sanford Martin wrote, “Thanksgiving Day comes, by statute, once a year; to the honest man it comes as frequently as the heart of gratitude will allow." I agree with him, we shouldn’t just wait until Thanksgiving to give thanks. Over the years we have been learning in church the importance of gratitude, and offerings of thanksgiving. I have begun to find that when things seem stressed, or the budget is being stretched too thin, or worry for one reason or another takes over – that a time of reflecting on the things I’m thankful for, and grateful for- help me refocus, and realize how blessed I am.

I have a nice house, my husband (unlike so many we know) has a great job, we are all fairly healthy, my parents (in their 70’s & 80’s) are healthy. We pay our bills, we have food on the table, and clothes on our back. I AM truly blessed. America’s poor are wealthier than most of the world, and I do not consider myself to be one of America’s poor in any way. I AM blessed.

Theodore Roosevelt said "Let us remember that, as much has been given us, much will be expected from us, and that true homage comes from the heart as well as from the lips, and shows itself in deeds." I think he meant that our thanks and praise should be from the heart, and that it should be reflected in our lives by what we do. Perhaps that might be sharing food for Thanksgiving baskets, or giving clothing to organizations that give them to those who need it. Maybe that might mean supporting orphans in a third world country, or taking a homeless person in your town to get some lunch. I think there are numerous ways to give back to show how much we appreciate what we’ve been given.


Getting back to how we celebrate, what are some of the traditions your family shares? I asked this question on Facebook. A dear friend of mine tickled me when she said they record each other snoring after dinner. Funny lady. I requested a copy of such recording. Like she and her husband, others said they have a traditional nap after dinner. My hubby would vote for that. Many said they decorate the tree the day after Thanksgiving, which is also one of our traditions. Some watch a certain movie, or play a certain game. My husband and I watch The Christmas Carol every year. Not just any version, but the one with George C. Scott playing Ebeneezer Scrooge. Our poor tape was starting to skip a bit, so this year, my hubby bought me a DVD. I’m looking forward to watching it on a non-skipping version!

I read some new ideas for traditions families can begin that sound intriguing to me. One was to make a Gratitude List and print it up and display it. Scrapbooker alert – this is a great 12 x 12 page to do, display for the holiday, and then put in your album! Another idea I read about was to take a white tablecloth, and a permanent laundry marker, and every year have family and guests add their Thanksgiving thoughts after the meal. I thought that was a great idea!

An American Tradition: Presidential Turkey

Since 1947, the President of the United States has been presented with 3 turkeys by the National Turkey Federation. One turkey is pardoned and gets to live out its life on a farm; the other two, however become Thanksgiving dinner!

Need a Thanksgiving Story to share?

Dr. Ralph F. Wilson tells the following story

Bitter Winter, Better Thanksgiving,
the story of Miles Standish

"Then the sicknes begane to fall sore amongst them, and the weather so bad .... the Gov/r and cheefe of them, seeing so many dye, and fall downe sick dayly, thought it no wisdom to send away the ship...."

Capt. Miles Standish had been much at his wife Rose's bedside. As much time, that is, as he could spare from stalking game, guarding against savages, and felling trees to construct crude homes on shore.

A bitter wind whistled through chinks and cracks in the Mayflower, anchored in Plymouth harbor that winter of 1620-21. Rose's chills would turn to uncontrollable shaking. Then just as suddenly, her body would be ablaze with fever. Herbs from the surgeon's chest did little to relieve her. By spring only five wives remained out of the eighteen who had sailed to Plymouth. Rose was not among them.

Thanksgiving? What was that? The golden dreams of a New World that Miles and Rose had cherished together had evaporated into hollow hopes. And yet that fall Capt. Standish joined other bereaved Pilgrims in the first Thanksgiving celebration.

The real test of thankfulness is whether we can give thanks from the heart for what we do have, despite the wounds and pains of yesterday's struggles. Ours is not some fair-weather faith, but a resilient trust in the midst of pain. The Pilgrims lived close to the edge of survival. Perhaps that is why they were so thankful.

How about you? Does your material bounty cause you to neglect thanks? When your clan gathers this Thanksgiving will a prayer of thankfulness be forgotten between moist turkey and pumpkin pie? Will your children see you bow your head to give thanks, or merely ask for another helping of dressing and cranberry sauce?

Children will be watching, you know. And their little faith is being formed by what they see. Your family's Thanksgiving celebration will instruct them about thankfulness, for good or ill.

Will they see you too wealthy to be thankful? Too independent to need God any more? Too bitter, perhaps? Or will they watch you truly give thanks for God's blessings on this special day? And maybe as they watch, they'll catch a hint that mom and dad and grandmother, in spite of painful seasons they have faced, have seen these bitter winters bear fruit in better thanksgiving.

Bible Verses on Thanksgiving:

Psalms 31:19

Psalms 95:1-6

Psalms 100

Psalms 107:1

Psalms 145:7

I Chronicles 29:11-13


Let the preparations begin!!

1 comment:

Mel Cole said...

This is what I wanted to hear, as I am an immigrant here in America and as a housewife, I want to learn the American traditions especially in Thanksgiving as we done have such celebration in our country.

My Thankful Thursday post here