Keeping thanks in Thanksgiving

November 21, 2012 

My son and I were watching a TV show last week when the familiar chords of “We Gather Together” came into our living room.

OK, familiar only to me. As the show featured only an instrumental version of the Thanksgiving hymn, I began to sing along.

“How do you know that song?” my teenager asked me.

Maybe a better question is, “How does he not?”

When I was a child, schools had Thanksgiving plays, in which we dressed in Pilgrim costumes and re-enacted with plastic food that first Thanksgiving. Somewhere in the play, we would sing “We Gather Together,” which we had been practicing for weeks in music class. Nowadays, I am sure that song that was for so many as much a part of Thanksgiving as the turkey is too politically incorrect to be taught in any school.

Thanksgiving Day, sandwiched in between Halloween and Christmas, is a holiday that seems to be getting less and less attention. Back in the days when Halloween costumes were made by your mother and Santa didn’t arrive in the stores until December, Thanksgiving was a day that stood on its own merits.

Now, it is overshadowed by Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Thanksgiving seems to be more about being a day when we plan our shopping trip for the next morning than it is about being thankful. Every year, you will hear conservations about how we have forgotten about the true meaning of Christmas. But I think we have also forgotten about the true meaning of Thanksgiving.

The fact of the matter remains that Thanksgiving is a day to give thanks to God. From the beginning, when George Washington signed the decree in 1789 calling for a nationwide day of thanksgiving, that was the intent.

“To be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God” is how the document reads.

Nowhere in it are shopping, football or even turkeys mentioned.

When we do remember to give thanks, it is usually for things and not to the one that provided them. We are thankful for our health, for our jobs, for our families but sometimes forget to thank God for giving us these blessings.

“We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing,” the song that so many of us learned as children begins. While Thursday will be a busy day, filled with cooking, eating, watching football and even shopping as many stores have upgraded from “Black Friday” to “Black Thursday,” it is imperative that we take a moment to thank the one that has provided us with all that we have in life.

After all, the last line of the song we sung in off-key voices while a teacher played the piano contains a promise, not just for Thanksgiving but for every day.

“Sing praises to His name, He forgets not His own.”

Contact Alline Kent at 396-2467 or allinekent@cox.net.

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