I love Thanks­giv­ing; it’s an Amer­i­can hol­i­day

The Weekly Vista - - Religion - RON WOOD Ron Wood is a writer and min­is­ter. Con­tact him at wood.stone.ron@gmail.com or visit www.touchedbygrace.org. The opin­ions ex­pressed are those of the au­thor.

love this hol­i­day sea­son! Thanks­giv­ing is sweet! Christ­mas is de­light­ful!

Thanks­giv­ing is so uniquely Amer­i­can and so tied to our colo­nial Pil­grim past that it is like a bench­mark for our na­tion’s cul­ture. Don’t mess with my tur­key, my giblet gravy, my corn­bread dress­ing, my sweet iced tea or my cran­berry sauce.

For those who tam­per with Thanks­giv­ing tra­di­tions, shame on you! Bah! Hum­bug! We had friends in Florida who ate Ta­cos for Thanks­giv­ing. Other than that, they were nor­mal peo­ple — good folks, ex­cept I would never want to be at their din­ner table for Thanks­giv­ing.

Many years ago, my wife and I took our chil­dren to visit a friend’s house in Texas. We planned to share Thanks­giv­ing din­ner to­gether. Un­for­tu­nately, the thing I re­call from that ter­ri­ble day was that they had no cran­berry sauce on the table. Not any in their pantry — I asked. All the stores were closed, even Wal­mart. What a dis­mal day that proved to be! I con­cealed my dis­ap­point­ment but made my­self a prom­ise. I now carry (if we are on the road for the hol­i­day) a per­sonal emer­gency can of cran­berry sauce. My fam­ily teases me, but it works! No more trauma due to miss­ing my Thanks­giv­ing cran­berry sauce.

At some point in time, I be­gan to cre­ate an­other tra­di­tion. As the fam­ily gath­ered for fun and games and while chil­dren played and food was fin­ished and odors of de­li­cious­ness filled the house, we drifted in and out of the den to watch the an­nual Macy’s Thanks­giv­ing Day Pa­rade. With­out re­al­iz­ing it, I gath­ered all my shoes that needed pol­ish­ing. I shined and buffed shoes with my kit of waxes and my horse­hair brush. Some­times my wife added her shoes to the pile.

I re­mem­ber read­ing “The Light and the Glory,” writ­ten by Peter Mar­shall and David Manuel. The sub­ti­tle is, “God’s Plan for Amer­ica.” This was a his­tor­i­cal nar­ra­tive of our na­tion’s for­ma­tion. I paid at­ten­tion to the strug­gle of the Pil­grims. Many of them died from dis­ease or star­va­tion as they set­tled in for their first long New Eng­land winter. Their brav­ery was in­cred­i­ble. They took risks for their fam­ily’s fu­ture, for their Chris­tian faith and for po­lit­i­cal free­dom.

Help for the Pil­grim colonists came from an un­ex­pected source. Years ear­lier, an Indian named Squanto had been cap­tured, taken to Eng­land as a slave, ed­u­cated and then re­turned to Amer­ica as a free man. Squanto’s own tribe was wiped out. But he spot­ted the colonists, saw them strug­gle to sur­vive and cau­tiously ap­proached them. In English, he asked them, “Do you have any beer?” Then he taught his new friends how to plant corn and ob­tain seafood from the bay.

The first Thanks­giv­ing in Amer­ica was when the colonists gave thanks to the Almighty God who had sent them help and en­abled them to sur­vive the harsh winter.

Sea­sons come and go. The mean­ing of hol­i­days be­come ob­scure. But Thanks­giv­ing Day is an Amer­i­can hol­i­day. We specif­i­cally “give thanks” to some­one, to a de­ity. It is not a generic “I’m thank­ful be­cause” but a gen­uine grat­i­tude voiced to the One who saved us, to Almighty God. The Lord an­swered prayers and or­ches­trated events so that Amer­ica, a light to the na­tions, could have a chance to take root.

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