|Anna Clare and Papa at Grandparents' Day at her school|
My dad was asked to give a devotion this morning to the seniors at their church. He emailed me what he shared and I wanted to share it here. Made me cry...but then again, everything makes me cry these days :) I love you Daddy!
Sandwiched somewhere between Halloween and Christmas ... is a Thursday holiday ( a Thursday!) that is slowly becoming more and more minuscule in the minds of millions of Americans - Thanksgiving. If you search really hard in Target or Walmart...if you really look...you may find one small section of Thanksgiving cards amid the aisles and miles of Halloween costumes and Christmas toys.
For some, Thanksgiving afternoon is the time you set aside to put the finishing touches on a list to guide you through a mega day of Christmas shopping. For others it may be an afternoon of watching the Packers (MY undefeated Green Bay Packers) take on the hated Detroit Lions...a mere warmup to the Iron Bowl in Auburn just 48 hours later. Thanksgiving Day has gone askew. Maybe we've forgotten the reason for celebration of that very first Thanksgiving. Gratitude for mere survival. Survival? Really?
We tend to think of a feast enjoyed by the Pilgrims and their newly discovered Indian friends. We fail to remember that the Pilgrims had been in America less than a year in the fall of 1621. Maybe we've forgotten - or did we even realize - that in those first few months... over half of the original Pilgrim population had died from disease or starvation.
It is incumbent of us to understand that the reason the Pilgrims joined their Indian friends for such a feast was ... not to swap their latest recipes as we do today. But rather it was to thank God for bringing them through the hardships and the trying times - for His provision in very difficult circumstances.
So, with that said, what does Thanksgiving mean to you...or to me? For me, Thanksgiving meant three different things during three separate periods of my life.
(1) my childhood: as a child from a broken home it meant bouncing around each year between my mother, my daddy & my grand parents - not a trace of tradition...no attempt to have us understand the reason for the gathering.
(2) my college years: then it meant it was time to cut off the long hair and come to Abbeville for fun, food and football...and maybe enough money to get me by til Christmas.
(3) my 39 years of marriage: this is the period that finally brought the true meaning of Thanksgiving...we have always made the trip to Clarke County in west Alabama to be with Karen's family...great times...stability...fellowship
This, the 40th year will bring change. There will be a day trip next Wednesday to check on Karen's mom. But Thanksgiving day will be spent in Henry County for the first time since 1971. The death of Karen's dad in February...the onset of her mom's dementia - these changes bring sadness.
On the other hand, a new grandson born in June, a granddaughter in August and another grandson to be born day after tomorrow - three new grandchildren in the past 22 weeks - these changes bring much joy - and the opportunity to establish new traditions - or at the very least - blend them with long-standing ones.
Thanksgiving has now come to represent stability, tradition and a sense of normalcy - things that were foreign to me as a child - but the very things I so strongly desire to instill in my children...and for them to pass on to theirs.
So what does Thanksgiving mean to you, to me, to us...a renewed emphasis of our faith?... a heart filled with gratitude?...the anticipation of Christmas? Many things to many people. Perhaps this is the year that we re-direct our focus...that it may become one of gratitude...simply giving thanks...thanks giving.
As Emerson put it - we give thanks:
For each new morning with it's light,
For rest...and shelter of the night,
For health and food...for love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.
Father, may this Thanksgiving join our hearts as one...may we purpose to give you praise and thanksgiving - for your love, your provision and your grace. Bless now this food, our fellowship and our time together. In Christ's name we pray. Amen.