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Gratitude and Thanksgiving determine life’s values

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In just a few days, Thursday, November 28, our nation and most of its citizens, will celebrate Thanksgiving Day in some manner. It will change with families over time. It was always an important day in our family. It was a time when family members would gather at grandmother’s house or in the home of an older relative.


Where, when and who are changing times as births, deaths and marriages enter into the plans. There was a time when mother and dad would want to go to their parent’s house to show off a new baby whose name may have been John or Mary. Sixty years later those new babies have become parents and grandparents and the family would gather at their house.


During Thanksgiving Day as families gather, there is a lot of story telling, remembering, laughter and expressions of gratitude. It is a time to review the past, be caught up on the present and look at the future that is always just ahead.


Any visit to or remembering childhood Thanksgiving Days in my immediate family was always eating Mom’s famous hot rolls, none ever tasted as good anywhere. Her turkey or chicken dressing was enjoyed as long as it lasted. My cousin, Louise Ellis Johnson, made turkey dressing better than any I ever ate. For years, we gathered at her house. Those days now are a pleasant and enjoyable memory.


Thanksgiving Day with Kitty’s parents was always a special culinary experience. Their Mennonite background added special dishes and tastes that were different from mine from a coal-mining heritage in West Virginia. Kitty’s mother was also a super cook and her dad was the best at preparing roasted turkey, chicken or ham.


Thanksgiving Day is a Christian celebration in its origin in the United States of America. The Pilgrims celebrated the first Thanksgiving for their hard-won harvest 392 years ago in 1621. It is a great story we all know and love – the first Pilgrim Thanksgiving. They met to pray for strength and courage to build their faith in this strange new land.


President Abraham Lincoln, in the midst of the Civil War, issued this proclamation in 1863. “The year that is drawing toward its close had been filled with the blessing of fruitful field and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they came, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever-watchful providence of Almighty God.”


This proclamation established Thanksgiving Day as a legal, national holiday. President Lincoln proclaimed the fourth Thursday of November to be the official “National Thanksgiving Day.” The U.S. Congress finally ratified this day in 1941.


William A. Ward said, “Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” This is a time of the year to share our bounty, our love and gifts with others. It may be in terms of food, special meals, giving of clothing and money so others may enjoy some of the blessings so many have every day and often take for granted.


Every good and perfect gift comes from God who gave for all of us His beloved Son, Jesus Christ. Through this wonderful gift of the Savior, we may all choose to live forever.


© 2013 Wm. C. Ellis


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