Only in America do we take a humble holiday in which we show our appreciation to God for his blessings, and make it all about shopping. And while it appears that we have misplaced the true meaning of Thanksgiving, underneath the mountains of food and the anticipation of Black Friday, I believe that we have not completely forgotten that we live in abundance. Otherwise, why would we set aside a day to spend with our relatives? Do you know how hard it is to get 20 or 30 people from all over the country together in one place for just a few short hours? If you think of the schedules, the travel, and the preparation made for one meal it is mind boggling…but we do it…year after year. That tells me that it is a highly valued celebration. Way back in the day, families lived and worked on the same land. They knew each other more closely and were familiar with all their aunts, uncles and cousins. The bounty of the land provided them with a harvest worth celebrating each year. God had given them another winter’s worth of food and the health to reap it. It was a generous time of good will to celebrate each other…to embrace family in all of its eccentric and varying forms. That part of the holiday remains the same, as we acknowledge our heritage.
This year to start our holiday, we went to mom and dad’s house in Clayton. They are preparing to sell it and despite the fact that we have known it for a couple of years, this was the time to take what we wanted. It seemed so wrong just to take stuff off the walls and shelves…like I was disturbing history. However, when I realized that now is the time to integrate the heritage of the family into my own home, it became easier. (Not that mom and dad are going to kick the bucket anytime soon…far from it, they are simply lightening their load, changing seasons so to speak.)
As I went through the family bibles back to my great grandmothers, the family legacy of faith became clear. The prayers written in the margins of these bibles are standing next to me breathing and wanting to learn more about these old books in my hands. I think of these women gathered around in heaven watching my mother pass their gifts to me. They smile as I share the moment with my daughter and sons. The old photos, the quilts that were sewn with love, and the handcrafted furniture of a generation, blend with the bird’s nests I collected as a child and the hand drawn pictures of my own children. So we pass our shared history around and take it with us to our bookshelves and walls to add our own colorful designs to the family tapestry. In the future, my own grandchildren and great grandchildren will read the words of faith I have penned. There will come a season to pass them along to the next generation and to continue the legacy of our family, with its blood ties, limitations, and humanness…the good and the not so good. And so the cycle continues throughout time. We loose some strands along the way as things change, yet the most important threads remain unmoved…faith, family, hope, character, and love. The truth is that Thanksgiving is a celebration of all of these things. It is more than just a great meal, but rather a feast of spirit that unifies us and reminds of the important things in life. I am thankful to God this year for my family and the abundance of love that he continually pours out upon us. I am humbled by such a show of extravagance by the creator of the universe on me and mine. My grateful heart has no words. I bow my head in reverence and awe at the heritage he has built within our family. This Thanksgiving, I say with all genuineness…Thank you God.