Giving Thanks

It is a rare culture or group that doesn’t have some sort of day, festival, or worship service for giving thanks, or showing appreciation for labors and efforts. Harvest festivals are what most of us probably think about, or perhaps offering thanks to the ancestors for deliverance, or thanking a deity for independence, or victory, or the gift of Scripture and teachings, or something. It may be a day set aside on a ritual calendar, or just “when harvest is finished” every year. There’s always been a sense that someone, other than just the people who planted, tended, and harvested, or hunted, or fought, should be given thanks for the good thing that happened.

The US and Canada made that an official day on the calendar. Setting aside a national day of thanks was either the first or second executive order made by President George Washington (historians disagree). The day came and went, and then was made a permanent (this far) holiday, with a set date, in the 1900s. In some places, there are also separate religions days of thanks, like at the church I attended in Not-All-That-Flat state. It was a farming area and a farming town, and every year, when harvest ended, a special service of thanks was held. We also had special harvest and planting devotional guides, and prayer teams for harvest and planting. Yes, it was a very, very important event in the life of the people!

Then we’d have a sort of Harvest Home, minus the alcohol and “corn dollie.” Instead it was hot-dishes, Jellos, ham, and other good things, all cooked by people who did not farm. In part because the farm wives had been doing lots and lots and lots of cooking, and were tired. So the rest of us pitched in instead, and gave them and their families a break. We sang hymns like “Come Ye Thankful People, Come,” and “This is my Father’s World,” and celebrated another year in the bin (as they say in that part of the world.) Harvest was close, it was critical, and we honored it.

Giving thanks means that you acknowledge something outside of yourself. It may be a deity, it may be people who helped you, it may just be gratitude to the world for being so beautiful and good. Looking outside of ourselves is important. It’s easy to get wrapped up in “us,” centered in ourselves in a bad way, and forgetful of what goes on around us. Saying “thank you,” acknowledging effort or generosity makes the way smoother and moves us out of our own heads, so to speak. Thus the frequent religious commands in most faiths that believers are to give thanks to the deity/deities for good things, and to apologize when that thanks is forgotten. It also binds people together in society.

Today, in the year 2021, it seems as if it is hard to give thanks, at least the usual phrases. Things are still off-kilter, more so than two years ago. For some of us it is better than in 2020, for others not so. But we are all here, and alive, and all of us have someone or something to give thanks for, even if it is colorful leaves and a beautiful sunset, or appliances that work and a car that runs, or a close family member still being with us and healthy.

So we in the US give thanks, eat festival foods, and think about the good things that we have been given. Who gave them? That’s up to you to say. I give thanks for readers and stories, for family and friends, for a non-leaking roof and a truck that runs, for a beautiful world with music and leaves and sunsets and amazing wonders in it.

12 thoughts on “Giving Thanks

  1. Thankful for online company, and thankful for in person company. Has helped keep me an approximation of sane for another year.

    I’m thankful for challenges, and for ambition. This year has been a wild difficult ride in some ways, dealing with pushing myself. But it is better than rotting, that time before I discovered this particular ambition, and before I could function well enough to push myself at all.

    I’m thankful for a bit over ten hours of sleep last night, and for realizing exactly how bad my allergies were contributing to yesterday’s level of crippling. Today may be a bit more productive. Either that, or better quality of rest, to recover from not recovering.

    With the wider situation, I am grateful for the stupidity, incompetence, blindness, and even the reckless impulsiveness of our enemies. The current strategy could have been better prepared, and will fail. Yeah, peace and livable agreement would have been better, but the criminals born into every population never allow the most desired degree of that.

    I’m grateful for the relatives who have survived difficulties as well as they have.

    I’m thankful for Americans, and the United States of America.

    I’m thankful for The Lord. Both for the personal relationship, which I ahve done such a bad job of developing, and because of the a game that is bigger than the immediate human situation and the material world.

  2. Thankful for family, friends like you, and our health! And that nobody is deep frying a turkey this year… 😉

    • Agreed. Deep-fried turkey is overrated, at least the two I tried. Dry as dust, and not much flavor. But all-too exciting in some cases!

  3. We’re doing a brined roast turkey breast, with a bit of stuffing, mashed potatoes, and oven-roasted brussels sprouts with red onion and kielbasa. Many of the traditional T-day foods, I just don’t care for at all, and when I lived with my parents, I got increasingly tired of turkey leftovers for a month after Thanksgiving – and just when we polished off the last of them, then we were faced with another month of them, after the Christmas turkey …
    Boef en croute for Christmas, I think!

    • I have no idea what Christmas will bring. I will be with other family, at their place. Generally if it is turkey for one day, it is ham for the other. Half the t-bird gets frozen for later use. Ditto ham bones.

      • Turkey stock – in large quantities – plus frozen vacuum-packed bags of shredded turkey and scraps. They all lend life and flavor to soups and stews for months to come. Yum!

        • Indeed – if you space them out, and don’t insist that they appear at every supper for three weeks after Thanksgiving.
          We had half a smoked turkey breast vacuum-sealed in the deep freeze which did very well, now and again… It’s turkey leftovers every day for nearly a month that I object to. Sigh. I fear my mother had no imagination at all, when it came to leftovers.

  4. I am thankful for all of the folks I discovered through Sarah Hoyts commentariat. You, Miss Red, are not the least among them.

    I am also thankful that the bout of Covid from which my husband and I are recovering was actually no worse than a Very Bad Cold for us. We would never have known that it was Covid, if mine hadn’t started to settle in my ear and I needed to see a doctor. I tested positive at the local Urgent Care, and the doctor on duty that day precscribed an antibiotic that took care of the incipient ear infection for me.

    I went back to work Tuesday, and that day at work was sooo much easier than the last day I had worked while ill.

    I am thankful that we live in America, where people still help each other without waiting for permission or orders.

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