|Norman Rockwell's Thanksgiving|
It is interesting to note, as I learned from a friend last week, that despite Thanksgiving finding its roots in the earliest settlers in our yet-to-be-nation, it became a national tradition during the presidency of Abraham Lincoln.
During that time, the country was immersed in the bloodiest and most divisive experience in our history; where brother fought against brother, a generation of men lost, families destroyed and displaced and human suffering was palpable throughout the nation.
At the height of this pain, despair and grief, President Lincoln declared a national day of thanksgiving to the Almighty God in November 1863. It has been a yearly celebration since. In the proclamation, Lincoln states:
I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.
And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.And, to think, some say our nation was not founded upon Judeo-Christian values.
So what am I thankful for?
I often find myself thanking God for His many blessings but let me try to list a few:
Thank you, Lord for my faith (which I realize is a gift that not everyone has), for giving me life, for the health of my family, for my marriage and the love my wife and I share (realizing the most important relationship I have is with my spouse, without which I have no family), for our three children (who have given us more happiness and let us experience greater love than I could have ever imagined), for the health of my parents and my wife’s mother (who are a huge part of our life), for my brother, his fiancé, my wife’s sister, her husband and two children, for my grandparents (who although no longer with us, were instrumental in my upbringing through their example), and for both of our extended families.
Lord, I give you thanks for our home (despite having outgrown it and constantly having to make the repairs and maintenance required for a 1926 house, it is more than most people have), for the providing for us so that we can send our children to Catholic school (which in the secular society we live in, is very important to us), for our jobs (at a time when many people have lost theirs), for our many friends (many of whom are like family), for my co-workers (who we share more time than with our own families), and for the many hardships, trials and tribulations that have made me the man I am today.
Finally, Lord, I thank you for being raised in the United States of America, for giving us the Eucharist (the highest form of Thanksgiving, and meaning of the word), the Holy Catholic Church, your Blessed Mother, and for all the things, that I don’t even realize you give me and take for granted.
What are you thankful for?