We Have Much To Be Grateful For

This Thanksgiving marks the 150th anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln’s proclamation, setting aside a national day of thanksgiving and praise. Well before President Lincoln took this step, and President Roosevelt signed the fourth Thursday of November into law as a national holiday, our founding fathers and mothers regularly took pause to thank God for the innumerable blessings bestowed upon this great nation.{{more}} In sharing the bounty of their harvests, with family, friends and neighbors they recognized their mutual interdependence and planted the seeds of generosity and gratitude that mark who we are as a people in these United States. In doing this, they gave each one of us who follow in their footsteps a tremendous gift.

When we give thanks for all that we have and all that we are something inside each of us changes. When we name our good fortune, we are drawn outside ourselves into something larger that frees us from fear, releases us from anxiety and emboldens us to do more and dare more than we might have thought possible. This has been demonstrated over and over again and measured by generosity, action and open hearts of the people of this country when trouble or tragedy strikes. It is why this nation is often the first to respond to such events. It is this spirit of Thanksgiving that defines us, not the challenges that surround us and as a Thanksgiving people while we see trouble is never far away, we also recognize the great blessings that are bestowed upon us. Families that love each other, schools where teachers care about their students and towns like Orange, where good neighbors support one another and service people regularly put their lives on the line at home and abroad. By the grace of God, we live in a land where government, though far from perfect, strives to make life better for all her citizens, conveying a level of freedom and opportunity rarely imagined in other parts of the world. We are blessed with communities of faith that nourish and sustain us in times of trial and empower us to make a difference where and when we can. For all these things, I am grateful and I give thanks.

Those who came before us have indeed given us a wonderful gift in establishing a National Day of Thanksgiving. May each of us honor them and honor the true source of our blessing, Almighty God and set aside this one day, to spend time with those we care about, share powerful words of gratitude and be a blessing to one another. Holiday sales can wait. The stores will be open tomorrow. This year will you be a herald of blessing or a portent of holiday shopping madness? The choice is yours. My prayer is that you choose Thanksgiving.

The Rev. Ann Ritonia is the Rector, Church of the Good Shepherd.