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Thanksgiving Day - What I learned from this North American Celebration
Thanksgiving Day is For Everyone
Several years ago, I never got to celebrate Thanksgiving Day until I migrated to North America. My first Thanksgiving Day was spent in Toronto, Canada in 1989. The holiday is much like how it is celebrated in US with the classic Thanksgiving menu of turkey, root vegetables, cranberries, pumpkin pie or a host of vegetable casseroles.This is one day each year when food and family take center stage. Thanksgiving Day is a holiday that connotes “going home” with all the emotional satisfaction these words imply. The gathering together for Thanksgiving celebration with friends and family is a deeply significant and comforting yearly ritual to the North Americans. The need to connect with loved ones and to express our gratitude is at the heart of all this feasting and celebration.
My family and I were always invited on every Thanksgiving Day celebration. We got together, prayed together, played together, reminisced and gave thanks for a simpler time, even just over a simple meal. In my own experience, I never roasted a turkey until my husband and I got to host Thanksgiving dinner for the first time in our new home. I enjoyed setting and decorating the table then, made use of my silver flatwares, sets of drinking and wine glasses, porcelain dinnerwares and stainless steel cookwares (especially the stainless steel roasting pan) which all had been kept or "hoarded" in our cabinets/storage ever since I had them.
I now became determined to enjoy Thanksgiving holiday every year whether we host it ourselves or just get invited over for the dinner. In Canada, Thanksgiving Day is celebrated on the second Monday in October. In US, it is on the last Thursday in November, and we are granted the next day (Friday) as a holiday, which they call Black Friday. That gives me a longer weekend to spend. I never shop on a Black Friday. If I need something, I will acquire it no matter what the cost, and get to enjoy it right there and then. From my experience, I used to buy stuff because it was on sale, and only to realize later, I ended up "hoarding" it. If they were perishables, they ended up in the garbage. Chances are, I usually forget I have them. I am good at stashing things but don't remember I have them especially when they are already out of sight. As the saying goes, "out of sight, out of mind".
There are scriptures in the bible which teaches us that hoarding is not good. Here are a few:
Matthew 6:19 "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal."
James 5:1-3 "Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries which are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted and your garments have become moth-eaten. Your gold and your silver have rusted; and their rust will be a witness against you and will consume your flesh like fire. It is in the last days that you have stored up your treasure!"
Job 27:16-17 "Though he piles up silver like dust and prepares garments as plentiful as the clay, He may prepare it, but the just will wear it and the innocent will divide the silver."
An Attitude of Gratitude
For this long weekend, I tend to think deeply more about gratitude and blessings, and this made me feel really good about life. I have so much to be grateful for. I could take the whole month of November (or the whole year) to bathe in gratitude. I express my gratitude for the blessings and gifts that I received. When our mind is occupied with giving thanks, we have no time for worrying or complaining. The consistent practice of thankfulness makes the negative thought patterns gradually grow weaker and weaker. This is a habit or pattern I'd like to acquire, not just to be done on Thanksgiving day.
Thanksgiving holiday is mostly celebrated nowadays in a secular manner, but I will use this opportunity myself to give thanks to God, my Maker and Creator of the universe, for this gratitude will provide a solid foundation on which I can build all my other prayers. Thankfulness opens our heart to His Presence and our mind to His thoughts.
I am also determined to re-connect with my former acquaintances, my former employers, my former church group members, visit the kids I once babysat and who now have grown to be teenagers, visit the important people in my life (especially my parents) thanking them of the several gifts or blessings brought into my life, the elderly and the ailing loved ones of mine before they shut their eyes from this world, and reminisce briefly the time we spent with each other at some point.
I believe that I had crossed paths with these people for a good reason. We also cross paths with problem people. They say that problem people come into our lives so that we may learn something from them. That's why we are also where we are today. It made us stronger than ever before. The bible also commands us to bless our enemies - bless and not curse.
I would like to give thanks especially for my parents for bringing me into this world and experience life, and most of all, to the Ultimate Giver of this life. With all these, I can already feel a vast measure of gratitude overflowing in my heart.
If I don’t get to see all of these people in this short period, I can still express my gratitude by sending them a note or email, thanking them for being a part of my life. I can touch base also by phone, even just leaving them a voicemail message. I will also review my gratitude list and add to it. And if I still would not have enough time during this Thanksgiving season, it can be done after thanksgiving. I can spend the rest of my life thanking.
A Special Time of Sharing and Sparing
We must not also forget, some of us may have an abundance of food on our table during Thanksgiving Day, but there are those who still experience difficult financial periods so they can still eat while they pay the rent and other pressing bills. While Thanksgiving is traditionally celebrated with a large family meal, it is also a time of need for individuals and families that may be without the financial means to have an adequate meal let alone a festive family feast. By extending our help to the less fortunate (not just on Thanksgiving Day), it is also a means of showing our gratitude for having been blessed with a more prosperous life.
From the biblical perspective, this is the same way God invites us to come unto Him for a celebration in His Kingdom. Psalm 100:4 tells us to "enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise."
Even at this very moment, in our private place with no one around, we can open up our heart and offer our praise and thanksgiving to our Heavenly Father. His table has always been set and prepared for us. We can come anytime. We are always welcome to give Him glory, honor and thanks. We can give Him thanks for redeeming us from our past and enlarging the territory of our future. We thank Him for His amazing grace (yes, His finishing grace, that liberating power of His grace), for His tender mercies that freely flow in our lives, for His provision, and for letting us walk in the freedom of His power.
Have a wonderful and blessed Thanksgiving!