I’m looking forward to Thanksgiving as a holiday of friends, family, and food. It’s a civil holiday, not a religious one, although in our house we do give thanks to God for the abundance of blessings we have received. It helps to be in the rural west where the harvest has been lately finished, and the fields of newly planted winter wheat are showing green. The wild turkeys that roam our neighborhood remind us that the turkey on the table was once a living creature whose life we have taken to nourish ours. The same might be said for the sheep, goats, cows, and chickens we see around here. Saying grace before meals has got to include intentional thanks for their lives.
It’s a time of greater awareness of the cycle of life and seasons, and our dependence for our sustenance on the good earth and those who work it . In Morning Prayer we often close by thanking God for all God’s goodness and loving kindness to us and all whom he has made. We thank God for our creation, preservation, and all the blessings of this life; but above all for his immeasurable love in the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ; for the means of grace, and for the hope of glory. Thanksgiving seems a good time to take that more seriously.
I resist the pressure to romanticize a first Thanksgiving of peaceful rapport between pilgrims (Or was it Puritans?) and local Indians. It seems an ingenuous prelude to the wars that followed. And I’m not fond of those who use it to expound reactionary nationalism, thanking God that we, alone among all nations, are both favored and exceptional. I’m happy to simply enjoy what we are able to enjoy in the company of family and friends we enjoy being with.