More and more families these days have dispensed with traditions and are doing what is convenient as opposed to what binds us to our past. Thanksgiving is certainly one of those days, perhaps the most important one other than Christmas, that has gone the way of so many other traditions and is more about pre Black Friday sales than it is about giving thanks and keeping the role of God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit in the front of our minds on this most special American holiday.
Many stores are opening around 5:00 a.m. in the morning and the only redeeming thing about this is that there are fewer businesses engaging in this practice than several years ago. This is due to the number of people who are shopping online and have decided to avoid the holiday crowds in the stores.
But for as long as I can remember, and for many years before that, our family has had a strict tradition for Thanksgiving. My mother, grandmother and great aunt always made the turkey, stuffing and all the trimmings for the evening meal. Mom learned from grandma and Auntie Lou – and when Janet and I got married in 1973, I made the turkey in our little apartment that Thanksgiving. I had learned from Mom who had followed the family recipe since long before I was born and there wasn’t any real choice about whether or not I would continue the custom.
This year marked the 45th consecutive year that I have done the honors of cooking the turkey. Our son, Andrew, learned the family secrets years ago, but wanted to enter into a formal “apprenticeship” 6 years ago and each year we hone our skills a little – this year’s bird was terrific! Andrew helped on occasion before that, but as Janet has concentrated on other parts of the meal, Andrew has stepped up to assist me prepare the stuffing and the turkey.
In all honesty, if Andrew, Janet and Kristin hadn’t been so adamant, the streak may have ended this year. With my leg surgery in May, Kristin’s and Janet’s struggles with health issues this year and other issues that really aren’t too important, I think I could have passed on all the work involved with Thanksgiving. However, Janet loves the holiday and I think Thanksgiving is Andrew’s favorite day of the year. With their encouragement, I finally got in the spirit, purchased a 23# turkey and made preparations to continue the streak another year.
Everyone mentioned that as long as I can breath, the expectation is that I will be in charge of the turkey. Frankly, I thought that when Andrew’s apprenticeship is up, I would step aside and he would take over, perhaps with an assist from me. But I was promptly told this just wasn’t going to happen. The kids, to the best of my knowledge, have never had a turkey made by anyone else in the family and it is with a sense of pride that I am glad that they have been spoiled with the old family recipe.
Like any family recipe, there are secrets to be learned, and guarded! But I get thrilled every year when the family enjoys the Thanksgiving offering. It’s one of the few things that is distinctly my area of responsibility and it would have been wrong to have broken my streak this year. It’s getting more difficult to find larger birds, but that just makes things a little more interesting as the 4th Thursday of November approaches.
The first Thanksgiving proclamation was given by George Washington in early October 1789, proclaiming November 26th of that year as a day of Thanksgiving. In fact, both houses of Congress asked him to write and deliver the proclamation, which he did. Since then, various presidents have continued the tradition until Thanksgiving was officially declared a day of giving thanks in the early 1940’s.
It’s important to remember that this day is more than a day of good food and fellowship. It is a day to remember God and all that is good about giving thanks. For starters, we give thanks to God the Father, through Christ our Lord, recognizing that the Holy Spirit is the source of our thanksgiving – and we are also taught that we are to replace sin with thanksgiving, according to Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. So, Thanksgiving in its simplest form is Trinitarian and we are to be thankful.
Furthermore, we know that everything created by God is good and we should give thanks for His creation. We also have learned that we are to be thankful in all circumstances, which is clearly biblical from the the book of 1 Timothy. So, as you can see, the Thanksgiving message is right out of the Scripture and even President Washington was quick to acknowledge God’s blessings on this nation and its people.
Our verse for this evening encapsulates the message of Paul in his letter to the Colossians. Paul tells us, in Colossians 3:16-17, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
My encouragement tonight is that God loves it when we celebrate giving thanks to God the Father through His Son and the Holy Spirit. My prayer is that you will forever remember that the Trinity is at the heart of our celebration and that it shouldn’t just be one day each year, but every day! What a wonderful tradition that would be! Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…