“All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.”
– 2 Corinthians 4:15
It speaks to the optimism inherent in the American spirit that Thanksgiving officially was declared during one of the darkest periods in our national history.
President Abraham Lincoln declared in October 1863 that a day in November be recognized as a national day of Thanksgiving. The country was fresh off a critical victory on the battlefield at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, one that resulted in more than 51,000 combined casualties between the Union and Confederate troops.
Every year since, Americans have gathered to give thanks for the things they have in their lives, and also to help those less fortunate. The holiday has persevered through many dark times, including times of war, economic hardship and periods of legitimate fear that nuclear war could end the world.
On Thursday, many of us will be blessed to spend time with our families and friends, and partake in plenty of food and fellowship.
Eat. Drink. Put down your phone and enjoy the company. If you plan to travel, do so safely. Don’t drink and drive, and wear your seat belt when riding in a vehicle, as police are planning stepped-up patrols and seat belt enforcement zones around the state throughout the holiday weekend.
Thanksgiving is a great holiday, centered around delicious food, which probably is one reason that we’ve persisted in observing it more than 150 years.
But it also is because time has brought progress and prosperity to America. People live safer, healthier lives than ever before. Advances in technology continue to reduce scarcity of goods, and the ever-evolving internet has made us more connected to our world and our fellow humans than ever before.
It’s a marvelous time to be alive, and most all of us have things for which we should be thankful – provided we don’t take them for granted.
Certainly, giving thanks will come easier for some than for others. Some of us are deployed overseas, or missing those who are far away. Others may be missing people who have left us, never to return.
Thus has it ever been. But on this Thanksgiving holiday, don’t feel alone, and don’t be alone unless you prefer it.
This is a day to set aside the petty aggravations of day-to-day life, take some time away from the internal struggle that is the human condition and focus on those things that make life worth living.
Remember that in many ways, our lives get better with each passing year.