By the time you read this, the left-over's are probably gone. The bountiful feast shared last Thursday by most of us is by now either consumed or sadly discarded. There are only so many ways to prepare old turkey. But I sincerely hope you shared a wonderful Thanksgiving Day, 2012; that the turkey was plump and succulent, the green bean casserole crisp and tasty, the stuffing savory and spicy, the cranberry salad cool and tangy, and the pumpkin pie ala-mode smooth and delicious. I hope that all your feasting whatever the menu was good.
Our dinner was superb! As usual I ate too much to the point of discomfort, but it was worth it. Thanksgiving Day is that uniquely American pause to pig out and pay the price. I hope all of you had such a feast day.
Obviously, Thanksgiving Day is one of my favorite holidays. Throughout our land families and friends gather to share fun, fellowship, and a great feast. This annual national pause to give thanks is deeply rooted in our nation's psyche.
Tradition holds that, since the fall of 1621, we Americans regularly have offered our deep gratitude for all our many blessings.
Remember those early history lessons? After the Pilgrims lost nearly half their colony that first winter in Massachusetts, the Wampanoag Native Americans befriended them and taught them how to work the land, grow crops, and thereby provide necessary food.
At the following harvest in 1621 the Pilgrims and their new Native American friends joined together in a great feast in thanksgiving for their new found abundance.
Since then Thanksgiving Day has grown into our yearly harvest celebration. It has stellar credentials: President Washington in 1789 was the first president to call for a day of Thanksgiving;President Lincoln established it as a national celebration in 1864; and President Franklin Roosevelt placed Thanksgiving Day on the fourth Thursday of November in 1941.
Giving thanks has been part of America since the beginning. That in itself is something for which to give thanks.
Of course, the first order of gratitude must be for being an American. As I review my life I realize I have contributed little to America's being, to its greatness, or to its hope. And I'm not denigrating myself.
It's simply that I was born into this great nation. My citizenship was gained through no effort of my own.
I was nurtured in America's secure boundaries, sustained by its bountiful produce, educated by its wealth of knowledge, and protected by its vast power with only minimal personal contribution.
I have benefited to a degree that far surpasses anything I've done that would warrant anything but gratitude. I am but a blessed recipient of the abundant goodness and basic decency of America. How any citizen can advocate abandoning our nation because of a lost election to me is shameful. I am so deeply thankful to be American; we all should be.
Page 2 of 2 - Thanksgiving Day proclaims something powerful about who we are as a nation. Americans are perhaps the most generous of peoples.
Throughout the world, when there is a natural disaster or crisis America responds immediately with heartfelt concern and a ready willingness to help.
Whether earthquake, fire, flood or vicious Tsunami, American aid is soon on the scene. The Foreign Aid efforts of the United States have benefited millions.
America doesn't just feel the pain of suffering, America shares the pain of the sufferer and seeks to feed, house, heal, and rebuild what is lost. In our bounty, America always seeks to “pay it forward” and share it with others. American generosity is surely worthy of celebration.
Also, giving thanks is one of the few absolute win/win exchanges between human kind.
When I express appreciation for a kindness received, I automatically recognize and affirm that I've been blessed by an action, word or gift by another person. In the giver's opinion, I must have value and worth. I win!!
But also when I respond in gratitude, the giver recognizes that their offering was appreciated and valued. The giver wins!! It is a win-win moment for both. That's why I try to live in an “attitude of gratitude.” In our polarized nation of lies, accusations, and threats, it would seem that a little more thanksgiving between folks would benefit us all.
Finally, it is to Almighty God that our deep thanks ultimately must be expressed. It has been asked, “To whom does the atheist say thanks on Thanksgiving Day.”
For those of us who pause and observe the miracle of the moment, however, the source of all this bounty is obvious.
Such precision, such delicacy, such balance, such awesome power that has sustained for eons such glorious life cannot be simply the result of chance.
All this wonder was not an accidental happenstance that millennia ago fortuitously fell into place following a “big bang” of some heretofore unknown stuff! No!
This magnificent phenomenon is the product of an unfathomable mind that devised, created, and now maintains this “fragile earth, our island home” and provides all the bounty that we savor and enjoy.
Simply to “stop, look and listen” on Thanksgiving Day, or any beautiful Kansas morning, is to know that our world is the result of a creative, beautiful, and recklessly generous God, who continues to pour upon all of us His steadfast love and bountiful blessings.
To which the only possible response is, “All good gifts around us are sent by Heaven above; so thank you Lord, oh thank you Lord, for all your love.” I hope that you and all whom you love lived a blessed Thanksgiving
Fr. Bob Layne is a retired Episcopal priest, living in McPherson.