Thanksgiving and Its True Meaning
“Bah humbug!” the Cambridge English Dictionary tells us is “an expression used when someone does not approve of or enjoy something that other people enjoy, especially a special occasion such as Christmas.”
In 1843, Charles Dickens gave us Scrooge and that memorable utterance in A Christmas Carol. It is a wonderful story of personal redemption I customarily read to my children years ago each Christmas Eve.
But now Christmas has been replaced; it’s “Bah humbug, Thanksgiving!” That’s the grumpy opinion of disgruntled malcontents who write articles such as: “25 Reasons Thanksgiving Is Our Least Favorite Holiday.”
Scrooge’s infamous condemnation indicted Christmas as a fraud, but the “hate Thanksgiving” crowd goes much further.
They deplore a battery of imagined personal suffering, including the holiday’s alleged dubious origins in history, freezing cold weather, expensive, stressful travel, the insane greed of frenzied Black Friday consumerism, the gluttony, the alcoholic haze, food waste, indigestion and the mess to clean up.
Most of all, they fear interaction with family, the interrogation and cross-examination, especially if you bring your new significant other. Add all that to the inanity of the obligatory watching of the cheap Macy’s parade and endless football games on TV. And don’t even mention President Donald Trump or any politics at the dinner table, please!
The first Thanksgiving three-day feast of 1621 included more American Indians than pilgrims, affirming a mutual commitment to peace and coexistence.
These pilgrims came to America in search of religious freedom and a better life. In the New World, these early settlers gave thanks to the Author of Life for granting them safe passage to this abundant land and protecting them through a bitter winter — along with the essential help of generous Native Americans. (That first Thanksgiving Day did not commemorate a military victory over American Indian foes, a later 1637 event now best characterized as a massacre.)
The Continental Congress declared the first national Thanksgiving on December 18, 1777, and in 1789, George Washington also declared the last Thursday in November a national Thanksgiving Day.
A persistent Sarah Josepha Buell Hale, an influential American writer and editor, and author of the nursery rhyme “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” campaigned in 1846 for the creation of a national Thanksgiving holiday. Abraham Lincoln was the president who listened and supported legislation, making it a national holiday in 1863.
America was in the middle of its bloody Civil War (750,000 died), and Lincoln hoped the new holiday would bring unity to a bitterly divided country — a civic quality we surely need today.
True Meaning of Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving Day is the official day on which Americans should pause and thank the God of our understanding for our blessings. It is an event that historically blends in harmony the spiritual and the official.
Certainly, among the many things for which to be thankful for are family and friends. This annual holiday underscores welcome family ties and their vital importance.
Our four children were raised on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Now they and their families live in California, Florida, Georgia and Michigan. Most will gather this year in Ted Bauman’s home in Georgia, where we will share our family presence, an essential part of this holiday, and of life.
A well-known 12-step program suggests that gratitude, being thankful, is a major factor in recovery from addiction. Gratitude defines us at our best; it points away from self toward others, and toward a Higher Power.
Despite our problems, we in America have much for which to be grateful. Redemption can be personal, but it is available to nations as well.
Our national day of Thanksgiving reminds us that there always is hope that life can be good, and be better — especially so in the United States of America, even in times of economic suffering and political turmoil.
So, on this Thanksgiving Day 2017, let us pray, give thanks and be grateful for our liberty, especially for those protecting us abroad, and for those who through the centuries have fought and died to preserve it, and thankful for our own family and friends.
It is our wish at Banyan Hill that you and your loved ones experience a very enjoyable Thanksgiving — and in the coming days, may God bless you and America.
Yours for liberty,
Bob Bauman, JD
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