Partakers of Our Plenty

The Thanksgiving Story as told By William Bradford, Governor of the Plymouth Colony, 1621:

Our harvest being gotten in, our governour sent foure men on fowling, that so we might after a speciall manner rejoyce together, after we had gathered the fruits of our labours ; they foure in one day killed as much fowle, as with a little helpe beside, served the Company almost a weeke, at which time amongst other Recreations, we exercised our Armes, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and amongst the rest their greatest king Massasoyt, with some ninetie men, whom for three dayes we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five Deere, which they brought to the Plantation and bestowed on our Governour, and upon the Captaine and others. And although it be not always so plentifull, as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so farre from want, that we often wish you partakers of our plentie.

George Washington's Thanksgiving Declaration, 1789

Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me to “recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:”

Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

Psalm 100

Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth!
Serve the LORD with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing!
Know that the LORD, he is God!
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name!
For the LORD is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tradition!

Thanksgiving Day this year didn't go quite as I had planned. Curtis had to work until 3pm (shame on all who fly on holidays). It was also King's dad's year to "have" him for Thanksgiving, but he and his wife had graciously invited us over to their house for Thanksgiving dinner. Not exactly a "traditional" arrangement, but Curtis and I would be able to spend the holiday with both of our children: a complete family (and then some).

The only truly traditional happening was that our family was playing that old holiday favorite: "Pass-the-Virus". Curtis and Mike had cought a cold. Mike woke up Thanksgiving morning barking like a bull seal. I was valiantly trying to fight off the bug by downing immune enhancing fizzy vito-mineral cocktails.  My plan was to get as much rest as possible before Curtis got home, then pump Michael full of cough supressant, so that at least he wouldn't be spraying his germs quite so violently around the holiday table.

I woke from my nap to find Curtis home and Michael hacking away, worse than ever. I laid out my "plan" for Curtis, to which he responded:

"What are you talking about? Do you hear Michael coughing? We can't go!"

[SCREACHING TIRES]

[NEEDLE SLIDING OFF RECORD]

I will spare you all the ugly details of my reponse to this proclamation. Let it suffice to say that it culminated with me spitting out the utterly unhelpful question:

"So, what, we just cancel Thanksgiving then?"

Curtis was right, of course. We were invited guests to someone else's celebration - guests that were supposed to bring beer and pie, not a heaping helping of the rhinovirus to share. In my mind, however, Thanksgiving was ruined and I proceeded to make sure it remained ruined, no matter who I took down with me. While Curtis was trying to salvage our day by trekking out to Ruby Tuesdays to pick up some $9.99 Thanksgiving Turkey Specials (no cranberry sauce... grrr) and Double Chocolate Cakes (no pie... grrr), I was plotting to remove the last semblance of Thanksgiving tradition: football. I flipped through the channels and decided upon "The Fiddler on the Roof", which was just starting. In my semi-concious effert to punish the messenger, the bearer of Thanksgiving Day gloom (i.e. Curtis), I had landed upon the perfect weapon... a Jewish Musical!

Poor, Reb Tevye. He had built his life on traditions and they were all crumbling out from underneath him.

"Traditions, traditions. Without our traditions our lives would be as shaky as, as... as a fiddler on the roof!"

Oh, how I could relate. My "traditions" were slipping away from me, too.

"Who should have her children with her on Thanksgiving?

Have some turkey with cranberry sauce and pie?

The Mama! The Mama! Tradition!"

I have learned over the years, that nothing sends me down the drain faster than a special day being treated like any other day. This is why I always make sure I plan something for myself on my birthday. Forget all that coyness, waiting to see if people remember, which only leads to dissapointment. However, considering the current situation, all my efforts to keep special days special can be thwarted easily enough by... well... real life.

So who's really to blame for this Thanksgiving "disaster"? Let's start with the usual suspects: me trying to control things I have no control over and setting my hopes on them. Time to shake off my tiara and stop worrying so much about how I am going to make the holidays sufficiently jolly and focus a bit more on what makes the ordinary days, not quite so ordinary. Traditions are not bad, but they are only worthwhile if they point me to the goodness that can be found in regular time.

Things to be thankful for on days other than the fourth Thursday of November:

  • My husband still has a job, even on holidays.
  • My eldest son has two whole families who love him.
  • I have a roof over my head, food on the table, a family to love, and all the wonderful, ordinary things that go along with them.
  • My God loves me enough to tear down my faulty foundations once in awhile in order to turn my heart back to Him.

“See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who trusts will never be dismayed." Isaiah 28:16