Sunday, November 23, 2014

52 Blessings - Thanksgiving

I'm grateful for commandments.  They're like the instructions to success in life.  Keeping commandments makes my life happy.  In particular, I'm grateful for 

Thou shalt thank the Lord thy God in all things.

Like it's sister commandment of not coveting, gratitude is a feel-good commandment.  That's one of the reasons Thanksgiving is such a great holiday:  when you celebrate it right - with a grateful heart - it makes you feel good.     

I love Thanksgiving because of
  • the colors — red, orange, green and gold
  • the smell — woodstoves, cinnamon, sage, nutmeg, roasting turkey and baking bread
  • the taste — pumpkin pie, potatoes (sweet & brown) and stuffing
  • the feel — family and friends gathered because they’re grateful and they’re family 
  • the pilgrims — we have a year-round display of pilgrims, a copy of the Mayflower compact, Indian corn, and a little stone from Plymouth Rock. I never take it down because it’s not decoration, it's family, those pilgrims are part of us. I am a descendant of John Howland who came on the Mayflower as a servant.  One night when the winds and the sea were fierce, a "lusty young man called John Howland" was washed overboard by a huge wave.  Providentially, his leg was caught in the riggings and they were able to pull him back to safety.  Once they settled in the New World, many pilgrims died and John Howland's master and his  master's wife were two of them. H.U. Westermayer reminds us that “The Pilgrims made seven  times more graves than huts. No Americans have been more impoverished than these who,  nevertheless, set aside a day of thanksgiving.” Three years later John married their daughter  and they had ten  children who lived to adulthood . . . and had lots of posterity.

I have a few things in common with John Howland besides genes:  one, I'm hale, hearty, and lusty; two, there are ten kids in my family and we all have descendants; and three, I love Thanksgiving. But what I really hope to develop and have in common is those traits that make a pilgrim:  faith, courage, and a grateful heart, no matter how hard times are.

On July 15, 1863 (a very good day indeed) Abraham Lincoln called for a day of "national thanksgiving, praise, and prayer" to be held on August 6th.  He invited "the people of the United States to assemble on that occasion in their customary places of worship and in the forms approved by their own consciences (to) render the homage due to the Divine Majesty."  Later that year the Thanksgiving Proclamation of 1863 was given.  Though still in the middle of a bloody and destructive war, and still feeling the loss of two of his own sons, there was much for Lincoln to be discouraged about, but he chose to focus on gratitude which brings humility.  He said America needed to be grateful that no other nations had taken advantage of her in her weakened state, that America's prosperity was a “gracious gift of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy,” and that all Americans everywhere should observe the last Thursday of November as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our “beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.”  

John Howland and Abraham Lincoln are two examples of having a grateful heart.  To be thankful when times are hard, to be thankful in the time of war, to be thankful every day . . . that is my goal.  

Thou shalt thank the Lord thy God in all things.  It makes sense and makes for a happy life.

1 comment:

Ande said...

I really loved reading this. Thanks for helping me remember gratitude. Your thoughts were so well said.