I feel a bit like Charlie Brown this morning, and not in a good way. I decided to research the origin of my favorite holiday. I’ve always felt very moved by Thanksgiving: a holiday that calls on us to give thanks to God for our blessings. Thanksgiving to me has managed to maintain that purpose over the years, at least that’s how I looked at it.
But then I started to learn some of the politics of it (or at least the political spin that has been attached to it). Some historians say the European tradition of giving thanks and feasting after the harvest was started in a post-Reformation world by Protestants who wanted an alternative to all the Catholic holidays, holy days and feast days. And a blogger on the Huffington Post web site cited an historian who argued the Pilgrims weren’t celebrating a bountiful harvest nearly as much as the destruction of the native tribes, who they viewed with contempt and fear. George Washington declared the first official day of thanksgiving in a political move to encourage the idea of a single nation and Lincoln did the same thing in 1863. Franklin Roosevelt set the modern date of Thanksgiving in an effort to boost the economy (FDR invented Black Friday? Who knew?!). I feel like Charlie Brown in the TV special, “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” Charlie was in search of the meaning of Christmas, but the only answers he found were crass, selfish commercialism. Rats.
Thank goodness for Linus. Brainy, nerdy, kind Linus who used the story of the Nativity to explain that, beneath the commercialism lay a simple truth: Christmas is the birth of Christ the Lord. I need a Linus to remind me that Thanksgiving is still here too. And that somewhere beyond the political spin moves, historical harrumphing and inter-Christian rivalries, the simple truth still lives. God is here, He has been very good to me, and I am grateful for the gifts that He showers me with every day.
And I am especially grateful for you. It has been only recently that I have learned that the hand of God is the hand of my family, my friends, and everyone else around me. The body of Christ is you, me, and everyone else. When I have needed His grace the most, it has appeared in your hands, your eyes, and your words.
Thank you. And Happy Thanksgiving.