I’m quite entertained by the fact that Thanksgiving isn’t what I thought it is. When an early group proposed commemorating the ‘Pilgrims’ first Thanksgiving, President Thomas Jefferson said that he didn’t think the fatal foibles of a tiny, ill-prepared (of the 102 people who arrived at Plymouth Rock, 60 died that first winter) community of religious extremists made a suitable holiday for an optimistic new country. The Pilgrims called themselves “the Saints” and came to the United States not so much for religious freedom, but to escape the corrupting influences of the modern world. The Saints were encouraged to pray their thanks when it finally rained after a bad drought the third year of the colony, not for a bountiful harvest the first year. When President Lincoln made Thanksging a national holiday, thanks to a woman’s magazine editor who beseiged him with Thanksgiving petitions, nineteenth century Americans romanticized the settlement of “the Saints”, reinvented their journeys and lives, dubbed them the Pilgrims, gave them hats and shoes with funny buckles, and we’ve been perpetuating this fallacy every since.
I think we would be better off to not make Thanksgiving a day of feasting, or gluttony, or football and napping, followed by marathon shopping, but to make thanks giving a way of life. To reflect daily on how God has been faithful. Again. Still. To thank Him for the life we live and live it to His glory. To thank Him for everything: the highs and lows, the goods and bads, the marvelous and mundane, the diamonds and dandelions, the pathetic and the perfect.