Being Grateful for the Blessings of Thanksgiving

The month of November brings some of America’s most beloved traditions: football rivalry games, many-colored leaves, cool evening bonfires, pumpkin patches, and of course, Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving is the calm before the storm – a wonderful storm – but a storm nonetheless. Unlike December, November doesn’t have the unbridled commercialism or a rush to buy, wrap and ship gifts. It doesn’t entail 30-minute parking-space searches, untangling lights or pacifying elves who move overnight. Thanksgiving is one simple, but special day. Although, some people with large feisty families may not agree with the “simple” part.

The first Thanksgiving took place in Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1621. It was a celebration of the first harvest in the New World the Europeans landed on. In attendance were 90 Native Americans and the 53 colonists who survived the journey on the Mayflower (less than half the number who started the journey) and the first winter in the New World. The colonists, despite everything they suffered – the harshness of their lives, the lack of creature comforts, and the uncertainty of their futures – were infinitely thankful for their new lives and new friendships.

Of course, the first harvest feast was radically different from the Thanksgivings we celebrate today. Compared to the original settlers, the life of an average American is one of riches and opulence, leisure and fun, security and longevity. Yet the basic concept of the holiday is the same. It’s a day to celebrate, spend time with friends and family, reflect and give thanks for our many blessings. For some, it’s also a day to help provide a traditional hot Thanksgiving meal to those who otherwise wouldn’t have one. For others, it can be a day to don elastic pants and eat turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing and pie.

In the 21st century, most of us enjoy and appreciate life’s luxuries, from fuzzy socks to cars, vacations and dishwashers. But we often take the basics for granted. Food, shelter, good health, clothing, employment and family sustain us. They’re what we need the most in this world.

So this Thanksgiving, don’t let dry turkey, your annoying cousins, Aunt Barb’s unsolicited advice, or the 100 times you’re asked whether you’ve been accepted to college bother you. Instead, try to remain calm and thankful for the many blessings God has given you. It’s OK to be thankful that your team won the “fill-in-the-blank” bowl. But also make a point to be thankful for the fact that you are warm, stuffed, and together with friends and family—even Aunt Barb.