Thanksgiving is a little early this year.
In fact, Nov. 22 is the earliest date Thanksgiving can ever fall on. It can only happen when Nov. 1 falls on Thursday and November has five Thursdays.
The thing about this early Thanksgiving is that it leaves us with a whole week left before December kicks in. Since tradition has it that the day after Thanksgiving is the official first day of the Christmas shopping season, that means there are more shopping days until Christmas. As a result, real shoppers will have seven more days to make sure they find just the right gift, and the procrastinators will have seven more days to waste before shopping at the last minute.
But this essay is about Thanksgiving, not Christmas, so I guess I should get back on track and see if I can write about this week’s celebration without using a bunch of platitudes.
Thanksgiving Day in American culture has always been a day of feasting. At times in my life, it has become a day of gluttony, thanks to the urge to have second helpings of everything on the menu. It sometimes seemed as though I had barely finished with the pumpkin pie before I was back in the kitchen making a turkey sandwich and grabbing another piece of pie. OK, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but even so, I definitely ate too much.
Well, advancing years, along with heartburn, eventually put a stop to such overeating, and now I can enjoy the rest of the day and sleep more comfortably when the day ends. I can be thankful, then, not only for the tasty Thanksgiving dinner, but for the common sense approach I now take with me to the table, at least most years.
There was a time when my family, or most of it anyway, would gather for the holiday. As time went on, that group became quite large, and since my family tends to be on the talkative side, it would get rather noisy. In addition, since none of us lived in an especially big house, we frequently got in each other’s way because some of us were, of necessity, sitting on the floor. Even so, we had a lot of fun.
Those family get-togethers don’t happen any more. My children and my siblings’ children have scattered much further than we did, locating in such distant places as Minnesota, Michigan, Georgia and West Africa. That means my generation has to scatter to get together with their families, making our old crowded, noisy gatherings undoable.
As for Karen and me, we will spend Thanksgiving Day at home by ourselves, just as we have for the past several years. That’s OK, because we can join other community members at the fairgrounds for the community Thanksgiving dinner and then go home to relax and enjoy each other’s company. We can be thankful for the memories of those old family get-togethers and be happy for our children and the happy families they are raising. We can also be happy that we have grown closer than ever after 51 years of living and learning together. In addition, we are happy that we can live here in northwest Wyoming.
These are just a few of the blessings I will be thankful for on Thanksgiving Day.
Thanksgiving shouldn’t be a one-day event, though. Many years of Baptist Sunday School taught me that I should “in all things give thanks,” which I think means being thankful all the time. Unfortunately, I have to admit that I have fallen short when it comes to obeying that admonition.
As I’ve grown older, though, I have become more adept at finding things to be thankful for. I’ve had a fortunate life, thanks to the grace of God, so thanking him for those blessings is easy. When the Apostle Paul wrote we should be happy in all things, he really meant “in all things.” Finding a way to be thankful for some unpleasant experience is the hard part.
So this Thanksgiving, in addition to giving thanks, I will be working on that all the time part of the suggestion, to remember to give thanks all the time, no matter what.