Today we are celebrating a uniquely American holiday, Thanksgiving Day. First celebrated via proclamation by President George Washington, on Thursday, November 26, 1789, " ...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..."
When I was a child, before we sat down to Thanksgiving Dinner, my Father would read, or have one of the rest of us read, A Prayer of Thanksgiving from the (Episcopalian) Book of Common Prayer that began, "Accept, O Lord, our thanks and praise for all that you have done for us. We thank you for the splendor of the whole creation, for the beauty of this world, for the wonder of life, and for the mystery of love..."
When my children were small, we would go around the table and each of us would say something that we are thankful for.
Recently, I heard my sweet husband, while cleaning the dishes after a Tahnksgiving meal, say to himself, and all within earshot, "I am thankful to the man who invented the garbage disposal."
True, Thanksgiving Day has as many meanings as there are people. I frequently hear some people refer to it as "Turkey Day". Since I began working at the Big Box Super Store, I have met many who think of it as the precourser to "Black Friday", which I have already blogged about.
Since we already had our Thanksgiving meal at our house, I woke up this morning and leisurely read my paper and drank my coffee. My local newspaper, The Omaha World-Herald, publishes a column called "Annie's Mailbox", a descendant of "Dear Abby", and I found a little Thanksgiving Prayer I liked so much, I saved it and printed it out to hang on my wall to see every day. I would like to share it with you here:
We come to this table today, O Lord, humble and thankful and glad.
We thank Thee first for the great miracle of life, for the exaltation of being human, for the capacity to love.
We thank Thee for joys both great and simple —
For wonder, dreams and hope;
For the newness of each day;
For laughter and song and a merry heart;
For compassion waiting within to be kindled;
For the forbearance of friends and the smile of a stranger;
For the arching of the earth and trees and heavens and the fruit of all three;
For the wisdom of the old;
For the courage of the young;
For the promise of the child;
For the strength that comes when needed;
For this family united here today.
Of those to whom much is given, much is required.
May we and our children remember this. Amen.
Let us also take a moment to remember a moment in our history that has been neglected in all the discussion of the holidays, and shopping, and eating. On this date, 49 years ago, President John F. Kennedy was murdered, leaving behind his young wife, two small children, and a shocked and heartbroken nation.
I wonder what George Washington would have written about the anniversary of a National Tragedy coinciding with a National Day of Thanks. Perhaps he would have suggested we give thanks to that Great and Glorious Being, not just for all that we have, but for all of those who came before us, who have contributed to who we are.
Happy Thanksgiving, everybody. Eat up! Give thanks!
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