Thanksgiving. It is the one day that is closest a nationally observed holiday in the United States. Most people observe it. Nearly all businesses are closed on Thanksgiving Day. This year some retailers have announced plans to extend the “black Friday” experience by being open for shopping on Thanksgiving Day. Should this come as a surprise?
A long time ago, in a faraway place, in my youth, even in a place such as Chicago, nothing was opened. Needed a stick of butter? Too bad. Maybe a neighbor could spare one. Run out of milk? You should have planned ahead for that trip to the package store. I remember when we first came to Wellsboro. For a time it was like that. Even the Acorn Market was closed until the afternoon hours on Thanksgiving. Establishments were also closed on several other days: Christmas, New Year’s, Good Friday and Easter, Memorial Day, the 4th of July and Labor Day. But, as was the case everywhere else, Wellsboro made progress.
My point is not to reminisce about the good old days, but that there is a need within the makeup of the human psyche for time and space, for recreation. Without that time and space, the creativity of human beings suffers. Imagination grates to a standstill. As a consequence, where there should be a sense of gratitude and thanksgiving, there is frustration and depression. It takes time to count one’s blessings, it takes time to develop a sense of thankfulness for the gift and the wonder of life.
It is interesting to me that Spanish is a language that does not have a word for thanksgiving. Strictly speaking, you cannot say Thanksgiving Day in Spanish! It requires an awkward construction. Accion de gracias translates as the “action of showing gratitude.” That phrase reminds us that thanksgiving is actually not so much a day. Thanksgiving is a lifestyle and an attitude towards life.
We are people of the Eucharist. Eucharist is a Greek term which means thanksgiving. In the Prayer Book, the prayer of consecration is called The Great Thanksgiving. As part of that prayer, we remind ourselves of a needful thing. The ability to show thanksgiving makes us uniquely human. The celebrant invites the people to give thanks to the Lord our God, and the people respond that it is “meet and right so to do.”
If you would be one step closer to finding true joy and happiness in this life, learn to focus on those things for which you are grateful. So many of us obsess over our cares, our concerns, our problems to the point that they control who we are and what we are becoming. If you put as much energy into being thankful, your life would be wonderfully transformed.