The vast majority of us supped at tables overflowing with good food on Thursday. Thanksgiving is nothing, if not a celebration of good food. Some us may have even managed to pull a four-day weekend out of the annual Thursday holiday.
But I can’t help but wonder if we miss the point of Thanksgiving.
When colonists first sat down to a Thanksgiving feast, they were, you can bet, some thankful folks. They had sailed for what must have seemed like forever to reach this new promised land they had heard so much about only to find it inhabited by people of a different race who spoke a different language and may or may not have been a welcoming crowd.
As it turns out those first Native Americans were friendly and they even accepted an invitation to lunch.
As I sat in my living room on Monday night, I told my daughter we’d be able to watch RGIII play football on Thanksgiving Day against the Cowboys. Her eyes lit up and she got excited at the prospect.
I spent the earlier part of that evening preparing a grocery list for later in the week with my other child and parsing out bits and pieces of the Thanksgiving meals to my siblings, asking them to bring this or that.
For us the holiday was turning into the modern-day vision of Thanksgiving: food, family and football.
Since the holiday gathering was held at my home this year, I knew it would fall to me to ask the blessing before we ate. So, I decided I would carve out at least that little bit of time to be thankful.
I prepared a list of those things for which I was thankful and I carefully recited each one. Then I asked everyone to go around the table and let everyone else know what they were thankful for.
It was a unique exercise for our family, but maybe it was an opportunity for us to realize, despite all the struggles we face, that we have so very much to be thankful for. And, of all days to express that thankfulness, Thursday seemed like the most appropriate day of all to do so.
So, in case you’re wondering, here’s what I told everyone I was thankful for:
• A fun job that provides income for our family;
• A wife and children who love me despite my failings and take care of me when I need taking care of;
• A father who instilled strong moral values and work ethic in me;
• A brother and sisters who help me remember the innocent times of childhood;
• A community that welcomed me home after many years away;
• Co-workers who bust their butts every day at work;
• A family by marriage that has brought me under their wing and cared for me and about me as if I had always been one of their own;
• A Sunday School class of middle-schoolers who challenge me to work hard to teach them important lessons when we gather;
• And a fellow teacher who gives me lessons in communicating with young people without even knowing that he’s teaching me too.
So, I wonder. What’s on your list?