"We gather together to ask the Lord's blessing ..." And so it is again this Thanksgiving Day. Families and friends will gather at homes, restaurants, clubhouses, churches, missions, campgrounds and various other locations to join together for a meal and time to give thanks.
Our folk lore has made great changes in the reality of the first Thanksgiving feast. The pilgrims had endured a pretty grim year and thanks to the kindness of the local Indians, they were able to survive and the feast brought one and all together. I wonder if they had problems seating one person next to another as some families must contend with today.
Getting back to the reason for the gathering. On a national holiday basis the government decided years ago to bring the many differing state days of Thanksgiving together onto the fourth Thursday in November and thus the holiday was set.
The concept of setting time aside to give thanks to God for the many blessings of the year draws people together to celebrate what they have and not to whine about what they don't have. As I stated in last week's column, most of us live better than 6 billion folks on this planet so we have little to gripe about.
We need to put our thinking into perspective. We all want to have more money. Bill Gates is still working and he seems to have more than the rest of us. So it isn't money we are thankful to have.
What it really comes down to is the stuff that really matters. When you have endured an illness or had a family member die or have a serious affliction you quickly learn two of life's greatest lessons:
1. Don't sweat the small stuff.
2. It's mostly small stuff. That's it.
Health, happiness, freedom, friends, relationships, spirituality, mobility and love are the things we think about when we give thanks for our blessings.
I am thankful for the many blessings in my life. My relationship with God, the marriage to my wife, my family, friends, freedom and good health are enough to be very happy. When I add in a great career, living here and all the other positives in my life, I can't begin to show my thanks to my Creator.
What we need to do is to share our reasons with one another as to what is great in our lives and sharing the fact that most of us are blessed by many things. Some want to call it happen-stance and good fortune and others want to call it divine intervention. Some call it a combination of both. I just feel too blessed to ever think that it is a stroke of luck.
I believe that my blessings come from answered prayers. Sometimes the answer is "No" but the prayer has been answered. Only later do I find that the unfulfilled prayer really was a blessing because it worked out better for me in the long run. Sometimes there are losses that we don't understand and hurts that seem beyond our ability to handle them. The secret is to count your blessings instead of your woes.
Finally, as this holiday season comes upon us it is incumbent upon those of us more fortunate to help those who happen to be hurting right now.
I hope you will find it in your heart to give back from your treasure to others. It may be in the form of money to a local charity, it may be in the form of coats to people who are cold. You may find it in your heart to donate food to the hungry and you may want to just do an act of kindness for somebody. They will be thankful for you and your quiet act.
Remember that there are no major or minor miracles -- all are just the right size. If they are hungry they need a meal, not a farm.
So neighbors, look around and lend a hand and then act. That which we do for the least of us.
Finally, I will be giving thanks for those things I mentioned above, but also for a couple of others as well. I will be praying a prayer of thanks for peace and for the veterans who have stood the watch or are standing the watch just so that we may all gather together to ask the Lord's blessings.