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Observing Thanksgiving as intended

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POSTED November 25, 2010 2:51 a.m.
­ By the time you read this column, Thanksgiving dinner will be just a memory evidenced by a bunch of leftovers in the fridge, and an extra notch let out in your belt.

You may be ensconced in your recliner in front of your flat screen TV watching the big game while snacking on a piece of pumpkin pie.

I suppose that’s pretty typical way for an American family to spend the Thanksgiving weekend, and there’s nothing wrong with it. I do, however, like to pause occasionally, and reflect on the nature of our Thanksgiving holiday.

I was on the computer yesterday admiring my granddaughter’s Thanksgiving Indian costume for her class at school. Other kids dressed as Pilgrims, and they enjoyed a “holiday feast,” as they learned about the early thanksgiving celebrations of our forbearers.

I wonder what the original settlers who celebrated with their Indian neighbors would think of our modern holiday.

Thanksgiving in schools has been replaced by a politically correct “holiday feast,” and oftentimes our family observances of Thanksgiving have become simply a warm and fuzzy meal with our friends and family followed by electronic entertainment.

Many folks have become fascinated recently by the study of genealogy, and some can trace their roots back to the passengers on the Mayflower or other early colonial settlers.

I suspect, however, that our collective ancestors would place considerably more emphasis on the giving of thanks than on the gluttony and socializing.  

I’m not really trying to find fault here, because I just as guilty as anyone. I, too, will probably eat too much, schmooze with family and friends, and watch football.  

It’s been almost 500 years since the first European settlers set foot in what is now the United States, and for most it was a life-and-death situation. A bad harvest, or an outbreak of disease, or a blizzard or flood could and often did spell disaster for the early settlers.

Those who survived and were able to take part in a bountiful harvest were indeed grateful to a God who had blessed them with ample crops, good weather, health and even freedom to worship as they chose. A holiday set aside strictly for the purpose of giving thanks to their God was a most meaningful event.

Today, more than 500 years after Columbus landed on a Caribbean island, we are still blessed and still have much to be grateful for.

Oh sure, we are in the midst of a recession and many of us are hurting. But most of us still have sufficient food and plague no longer stalks our towns. We have dams that protect us from floods and help us through droughts, and we still have the freedom to worship as we please, to pick up a gun and go hunting to put food on the table.

I am grateful that I am still above ground, that my family is reasonable well and that my nation is still a place where we can decide our own course of action.
 
This Thanksgiving, I will offer prayers of thanks to a God who has blessed us. I hope your Thanksgiving is a wonderful one.
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