For some, it’s the time of year when we take off a few days to spend time with family, carve a few turkeys, eat far too much dressing, and watch a football game or two. For others, it’s the day leading up to the beginning of the spend-fest of holiday shopping, and the kick-off to the season of gift giving and mistletoe and Old St. Nick.
But it is so much more.
It’s the time that begs us to stop long enough to say a collective ‘thank you’ for all those blessings that we have enjoyed over the year – a celebration of gratitude that began when our nation was still in the womb, still taking the first steps toward forming the greatest democracy the world has ever known.
By its Pilgrim origins, Thanksgiving is uniquely American. It was formed through an early-American attitude of gratitude from those who came here seeking the freedom to worship the Author of all freedoms.
But today, our nation seems to be increasingly confused about just who should be the recipient of that gratitude.
Today, we so often give credit for our freedoms and our blessings to the creation, not the Creator.
We credit our hard work and our diligence. We credit our sense of ‘entitlement’ that says we somehow ‘deserve’ to have all the things we take for granted in this country.
Environmental groups like Sustainable Living Solutions have even told us this week that we should thank ‘Mother Earth’ for all of the blessings of living on this planet.
But based on their writings that record their thoughts and beliefs during the early days of our nation’s formative years, our Founding Fathers were not confused about thankfulness at all.
Like many of us, they saw their blessings – blessings of life and liberty and material possession – as things that came with hard work and dedication to a cause greater than themselves. They saw the blessing of freedom as something to be protected through strong hands, fighting against any foe that would take it from us.
And it was.
But they also knew that the true Source of those blessings was not in their own hands, but in the hands of the Creator who provided them. Read from their own words:
“If a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid? — Benjamin Franklin
“God who gave us life gave us liberty.” – Thomas Jefferson.
Our forefathers and champions of freedom warned us about forgetting who to thank for America.
“Can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the Gift of God?” – Thomas Jefferson
“We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven. We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power, as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us! It behooves us, then to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness. – Abraham Lincoln.
This week, as we celebrate Thanksgiving – as we take off a few days to spend time with family, carve a few turkeys, eat far too much dressing, and watch a football game or two, as we kick-off the season of gift giving and mistletoe and Old St. Nick — let us remember that our blessings do not come through our own ‘entitlement’ as human beings or as Americans. They do not come from our erroneous belief that we somehow ‘deserve’ them — that we should have those things handed to us on a platter. Our blessings do not come to us because of some haughty prideful idea that we are somehow so ‘worthy’ of it all – they come IN SPITE of it.
America is a blessed nation where we have rights and privileges that others do not often see. We, above all others, should remember from whom those blessings come.
They do not come from our own hands, and they do not come from ‘Mother Earth’.
They come from the same Creator that the Founding Fathers bowed to thank so many years ago.
This Thanksgiving, as we utter those words time and again, words about thankfulness and gratitude, as we think back on all those blessings that we have enjoyed in our lives this year, let us remember just Who it is that we should thank — for our blessings, our freedoms, our privileges, and our lives.
“When we view the blessings with which our country has been favored, those which we now enjoy, and the means which we possess of handing them down unimpaired to our latest posterity, our attention is irresistibly drawn to the source from whence they flow. Let us then, unite in offering our most grateful acknowledgments for these blessings to the Divine Author of All Good.” – James Monroe.
Dee Ann Campbell is the Publisher of The Choctaw Sun-Advocate, in Gilbertown, Alabama, and is the co-author, with her daughter, Kristen, a law student at the University of Alabama, of the book, “That’s Crap and You Know It: How to Raise Consevative Kids to Stand Up Against Liberalism”, published by X-Libris Press.