By Glenn Miller
GOD’S WORD: “Let us come before Him with thanksgiving and extol Him with music and song.” – Psalm 95:2
If you’re like me, you probably woke up this morning realizing that today is Thanksgiving Day. Although it may not look like it has in years past, it will be marked by endless traditions: early morning parades, a Thanksgiving meal, football games, and the beginning of the 30-day “It’s a Wonderful Life” marathon, or in Sharon’s and my house, the period in time when the TV is permanently affixed to the Hallmark Channel!
I think back this morning on all the previous Thanksgivings and those things that have become tradition in our family. My Mom always insisted that we celebrate Thanksgiving during the evening meal, partly because that’s the way our ancestors supposedly did it and partly because she didn’t want everyone rushing through the meal in order to catch the kickoff of an afternoon football game. In Sharon’s family growing up her family would celebrate “progressively”, starting with the traditional noon meal at her home, then another meal at her Nanny’s house and yet another at her Mammaw’s house, followed by shopping the next day in downtown Lufkin, where to this day she still can’t recall seeing the good-looking, witty and charming young man working at his father’s department store who would one day become her husband!
In my family growing up, our home on holidays was always filled with numerous family and friends coming and going. Since almost everyone else had their Thanksgiving around noon, it enabled everyone to join us for the evening meal. It wasn’t unusual to have 20-25 around the tables in the dining room, kitchen, and wherever anyone else could find a seat. Tradition is a big part of my family and I’ve always been the watchdog of the family to police the authenticity of family gatherings. Thanksgiving was the only time for the year that I’d eat succotash, and it wouldn’t be Thanksgiving unless it was made.
One other predominant Thanksgiving memory at our house was each Thanksgiving morning I’d wake up early and join my Dad outside for what became known as the annual “Raking of the Leaves”. We had these two huge oak trees on one side of the yard and by the time Thanksgiving came about, that side of the yard was blanketed with leaves about six inches deep. Back then, you could rake them out into the street and burn them. My Dad was the perennial East Texas Bubba and saw to it each year to incorporate gasoline, cardboard boxes, newspapers, the neighbors’ cat and whatever else was combustible in order to keep the fire going. It’s a wonder I still have hair.
Lately, as I think about these wonderful memories, I find myself asking why I was born into such a comfortable environment instead of an oppressed society or in the jungles of South America where I wouldn’t know where my next meal was coming from. Why me? What did I do to deserve such a prize; to be able to be a free citizen in the greatest country on Earth? Why can’t everyone have what I have? Why is it that there are people out in the cold who have no home, no family, and nothing to eat, while I sit warmly in my home with a toasty fire, more than I’ll ever eat, and being able to love and share with family and friends? No, clearly it wasn’t because of anything I did to deserve this.
The only thing that I can come up with is that it is grace; the same grace that has been given to me from God unconditionally and undeserved. The only thing I can do in response is to share my blessings with others less fortunate and give thanks to God, not just on Thanksgiving Day, but every day I draw breath.
Regardless of where we may be on our individual life journeys, we each have a multitude of things to be thankful for. May I take this opportunity to wish you and yours a very Happy Thanksgiving Day and give thanks to God for allowing me the privilege to share my “thoughts along the way” with you.
God bless us, everyone!