Thanksgiving Day is the closest we come to having a “religious” secular holiday. Although it is a government-proclaimed holiday, it is a time for prayer and for reflection on all the good things that we enjoy as Americans. It is a time when we can legitimately thank God for all the good that He has bestowed upon this nation.
Thanksgiving became a federal holiday in 1863, during the American Civil War when President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national day of “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens,” to be celebrated on the last Thursday in November.
Freedom to worship as we wish is one of the bedrock principles of America. This nation was established by believers who were ever grateful to the God they worshipped that people of all faiths could flourish on these shores with the freedom to follow the precepts of their religion.
So, we pause once a year to remember where we have come from, and we celebrate the rich bounty that we enjoy here with family gatherings and lavish feasts.
Another great tradition on this holiday is the number of people who give thanks by attending Mass.
For some, this may not have been a good year. Maybe a relative has died or is missing from the family table for whatever the reason. Maybe we have been struggling with a personal illness or with the illness of a close friend. Maybe our financial future has been threatened by an unforeseen circumstance.
We might wonder what we have to be thankful for on this Thanksgiving Day.
First and foremost, we should give thanks for the great gift of life. We are here, and we have been created in the image of an all-loving God. We have been blessed with people who care for us, even though we may not always realize that.
We also give thanks for the faith that we share and the belief that God will not present us with a cross that we cannot handle. All things are possible if we only believe and then work toward a solution. God’s grace conquers all fears, and no hurdle is too high that we cannot scale it.
As we approach the greater holiday season and the celebration of Christmas, we may feel that we cannot live up to the expectations of this time of year. We call that the holiday blues; yes, seasonal depression is real.
During this season of Thanksgiving, let us resolve to get outside of ourselves to reach out to others. That is the antidote to the gloom one may feel during the holidays.
Get involved in a parish giving tree. Make a donation to The Tablet’s Bright Christmas Fund. Plan to participate in a food drive for seniors and the needy. Caring about others will make us feel better about ourselves.
We give thanks most of all that we live in a country where all these things are possible. The land of the free and the home of the brave may not be perfect, but it is the place where great strides are made to allow us to be who we are.
There is a lot to be thankful for this year, if only we stop and listen.