With respect to full disclosure, I have to admit my favorite part of Thanksgiving is the left-overs. For up to a week after all the families have returned home and the sales are over, I can walk to my refrigerator, open the door and relive the Thanksgiving Day dinner at any level I choose too.
If I am in the mind too, I can fill a plate with almost everything available on the day itself. I can take a scoop of cranberry salad, mashed potatoes, turkey (of course), add a roll, don’t forget some of that green salad stuff that has the cottage cheese in it and I can relive and re-eat my Thanksgiving dinner.
If I am in a hurry or a little lazy, I can help myself to just one of the above; I have been known to just eat a serving of just mashed potatoes with a little butter on them or (and this is my favorite) a bowl of the cranberry salad.
My point is that we can use the left-overs to satisfy not only our physical cravings, but also our mental attitude at the time. This year, however, I received a helping of left-overs that came as a complete surprise, but I will be grateful for them for a long time. No, my neighbor didn’t stop by; it happened at church.
In our church, members of the congregation are invited to speak at the pulpit from time to time and the Sunday after Thanksgiving was no exception. The young lady who spoke is an immigrant and she grew up in a different country. She didn’t move to the United States until she was an adult. She shared a perspective on Thanksgiving that I had forgotten.
She spoke of how wonderful it is that an entire country, regardless of race, creed, national origin or belief has the opportunity to take a day, gather with their families and give thanks to whomever they choose too.
Imagine that, a society of almost 300 million people stopping and taking a day to say “Thank you.” No other nation in the world does that and to my knowledge, no other nation ever has.
We all know that not all of us can take the day off. I spent a good part of my life in a uniform of one kind or another and there are some jobs that are required to be done no matter what day it is. I grew up on a farm and the cows needed to be milked and fed every day, including Thanksgiving. That’s not the point and it doesn’t take away from the strength of this simple concept of an entire society having the opportunity to stop, gather with family and say “Thank you.”
Over the past several years, I, like many others have grown cynical of the holiday. I had forgotten the simple concept of this special day and I had misplaced it beneath sale flyers, traffic death reports, the cost of gasoline estimates and football scores.
This year was worse than most, with the bitter presidential campaigns and election cumulating just prior to the day. I must admit I was only seeing this years’ Thanksgiving as a day to take a break and eat an extra big meal. I was shortsighted.
Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against the sales and the football. Sales are a necessary part of the strength of our society and I admire anyone brave enough to participate in the early morning sale rushes. I love football and watching the Lions every year is a part of my Thanksgiving Day. That is the point.
We have a day, set aside, to express our gratitude to whomever we choose. For many of us, we have a special Thanksgiving Day prayer and we give thanks to our Maker. For others, they express their gratitude in other ways. What makes our country so special, what makes this country different from all other countries and what the speaker that Sunday morning reminded me is that we are different and it is that freedom to express our differences that, in the end, we should all be grateful for.
I grew up in a time when we were told that Americans were an exceptional people. Now we are told we are not and never were exceptional. Maybe we’re not, or maybe we were, but are no longer, but we are the sons and daughters of an exceptional country, society and way of life. We have had, passed to us, from our ancestors traditions and beliefs that if we continue to hold on to and honor them we will remain, if not exceptional at least different.
I said a special Thanksgiving Day prayer at dinner time for my family. I forgot and overlooked one blessing that I did not mention and I want to correct that error now. I am grateful for and give thanks for the young lady who stood in church and reminded me how wonderful this country is.