Column: Complete the Circle: Thanksgiving

By George Evans
What is it that makes Thanksgiving special? Answers abound. Some say it’s the food. Argue the superiority of mom’s dressing over all other comers. Cornbread vs white bread or cornbread vs. mixed. How about pumpkin pie vs. ambrosia for dessert or mashed potatoes vs. sweet potato casserole or green beans vs. spinach madeleine? No debate on turkey. Just how much. Do some birds lose some taste if they are too big? The controversy can go on and on. But everyone always is stuffed at the end of the meal.
Politics is usually a disaster and should be avoided as a topic of discussion. This year more so, even if the election is over. Football has been a mixed bag this year so best to move on. Family problems have been relatively minor so probably they deserve only a passing mention. If something serious needs discussing that should probably wait for a smaller group at a later time not a holiday.
Religion can be explosive depending on the circumstances. But shouldn’t God have a place in Thanksgiving even if religion as such is soft peddled? After all, none of us can celebrate getting along with the Native Americans anymore. We have solved that situation by moving them “out of the way” to reservations. White folks get along with blacks, Hispanics, Asians, Muslims and others better than ever and vice versa. Just witness the recent campaigns for president. That must mean God has blessed us and our land.
It’s Thanksgiving so we must thank God for all our blessings. Scripture tells us over and over to thank God for life, particularly since we are all created in his own image and likeness. Apparently we must think we thank and honor Him by our abortion rate, our wars, our executions, our murders, our educational failures, our sexual abuses and other indiscretions. We do sometimes thank Him by acts of kindness and compassion, by selflessness instead of selfishness and narcissism, by generosity rather than greed, by inclusion rather than exclusion, by hope rather than despair and by love rather than hate, all of which his Son suggests to us over and over in the New Testament.
We also thank God at Thanksgiving for the wonderful creation he has given us for our use, joy and stewardship. We pledge to keep it pristine, develop it carefully and keep it awe-inspiring for those who come after us. We thank God at Thanksgiving for our wonderful parents and grandparents, spouses, children and grand children, friends and all who have loved us and we them in sharing our hearts and souls with each other. We thank God for being a God who talks to us, who embraces us, who shares with us when we embrace him in prayer and action.
We thank God for the grace to ask forgiveness from those we may be closest to and whom we may have hurt the worse and to forgive them and others 70 times seven times as part of a deeper maturity and conversion. We thank Him finally and primarily for the gift of His Son, Jesus, who loves us unconditionally, who has redeemed us and saved us from our sin, who makes our resurrection part of His and who by grace makes our Thanksgiving special.
Now, we can all fully join in this Thanksgiving regardless of what may be served for dinner. Happy Thanksgiving.
(George Evans is a retired pastoral minister and member of Jackson St. Richard Parish.)