At the top of the week during which we celebrate Thanksgiving Day, I want to wish you peace and many blessings. My hope is that you will have time to relax with family and loved ones.
I know that there can be considerable activity surrounding this popular day of celebration. Many people — myself included — travel to be with family. And, even I know that the fine dinners that draw us to festive tables do not drop from the sky. There is shopping, peeling, paring, dicing, chopping, pureeing, washing, roasting, basting, carving and cleaning up to be done. Few have servants and none have elves to do that work for us.
However demanding the work may be, many have told me over the years that it carries its own sense of pleasure and reward. In many families the work is shared. Sam will bring the squash, Lillian the cranberries. Gert takes special pride in preparing the table. Uncle Fred insists on carving the turkey. And, no one dares come near the flowers while Cousin Rachel is around.
Such common effort enriches the day for many. Even more does the holiday meal itself. Generally, the meal is leisurely; the people at the table, relaxed. They are more inclined to spend time together, to catch up with one another. Very often the catching up folds into a “Do you remember Thanksgiving five years ago when Lucille and Sam forgot ‚Ä¶ ?” kind of conversation. And it goes on from there.
In the Catholic Courier monthly edition of Nov. 2, I wrote about how important it is for us to be mindful of God’s abundant gifts to us — of life, faith, talent, opportunity, support, loved ones and friends and the dreams that rest deep in our hearts. It seemed an appropriate time to reflect on our call and responsibility to express our gratitude to God by sharing gifts of time, talent and treasure with others — for the glory of God and the good of neighbor.
I hope that you will have time between now and the Thanksgiving feast to name and thank God for the great and small blessings of your life. You might give special attention to the months following Thanksgiving 2004 and the blessings of that time period. What new gifts are there? Have there been any changes in the long-standing ones? Am I sufficiently mindful that God is the source of all of those blessings? Do I understand that my gratitude is deep and genuine only when I share those blessings with my neighbors, especially the ones in need?
I don’t want to make Thanksgiving Day a project for you and the family; you already have plenty to do. But I would like to suggest two possibilities for your consideration. The first is that you make the Eucharistic Liturgy at your parish church a part of your day. It will allow you to join in the prayer of others as together you give praise and thanks to God for the blessings of your life.
The second suggestion is that you find some ways to invite all who share the celebration with you to name something for which they are especially grateful. It needn’t be an elaborate process — just a few words from each, quietly and gratefully received by all. To share with others that for which we are grateful can awaken in all of us an awareness of gifts for which we have never thought to give thanks.
Peace to all.