Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Gratitude Given and Received

A sense of heightening holiday time prevails as we fill our pantries with the good food to make ready for the Thanksgiving Day table.

The venerable November event inaugurates the season of parties, gatherings and homecomings. It flips the switch on the light that shines cheerfully through the dark period of the year.

A recent email from a friend catches the anticipation and planning in our homes this busy week. 

With mention that she’s hosting her family’s Thanksgiving dinner she concluded by saying she’d concentrate on the food and it will all work out.

It was the last line in her note that widened my smile. She said she best get back to work to get it done. Succinctly she identified the process for successful hosting – food and thoughtful preparation. 

My thoughts will be with her as she and her husband seat their large group at table.

This Thanksgiving, for most of us, we’re in a different place than a year ago. 

This relocation generally doesn’t have to do with another setting. We may very well be tucking our legs under the holiday tablecloth at the same house as before. The surroundings in many cases aren’t changed – but we are.

Life circumstances are good at putting us in a different place. For each of us the preceding twelve months have brought a mix of experiences.

Most of us have known something of joy and gain and loss and pain. We've secured employment and been downsized in careers.

We’ve acquired homes or other possessions. We’ve suffered foreclosures or lost ground in other ways as through diminished health.

Relationships for some have wonderfully begun. Don’t count on fairy tale endings when people are involved. Cessation of romance, trust or any other involvement of the heart is the wound many carry this year.

Great numbers had dreams realized. Never liking to be left out of the equation, disappointment  has a universal tendency to pop up. It introduces discouragement by taking down a hope or raising an obstacle.  

Ah yes, we sit in a different place than at this time last year.

Thanksgiving Day, wisely set aside by our government, should wisely be used by us in return. 

More than the surfeit of food, more than the gorge of Christmas shopping which begins immediately, the day is well used to give thanks for the gift of life we share with others.

Giving thanks for what is in our lives includes time enjoyed and which utilizes the best in us. It takes in good moments of every kind that make more of our days. 

It can be gratitude for someone who has touched some aspect of us. Some of those remembered are with us, some no longer so.

 A year can deal harshly. In these hard situations support generously supplied, or wisdom or patience that gets one through, is the thanksgiving to give concentration to.

Life, as I’ve come to grasp it, isn’t to be understood but to be lived. Giving thanks in all conditions is wired to the entire spectrum of who we are – no matter who we are, where we are or at whose Thanksgiving table we gather.

Thanksgiving Day, by its very reason of creation, calls to the importance of taking time for purposeful consideration.

The day was established as a day of thanksgiving and prayer by our first president George Washington, made a national holiday by 16th president Abraham Lincoln, and the date later set by Congress as the fourth Thursday of November. 

It upholds an important tenet that precedes the founding of our country. It can be traced to the Pilgrims more than a century earlier.

These English colonizers, driven by zeal for God, and perhaps impractical in their idea of how they were to survive on remote rocky shores, hung on. 

With the help of American native neighbors they made a home where they could in faith and future abide. This is what was celebrated at that first Thanksgiving. 

Faith in the present, which in part draws from the past, hope in the future and gratitude given and received continues to be our Thanksgiving today.

Ro Giencke

November 26, 2013

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