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Giving-Thanks on Thanks-Giving
By Christy L. Riley 
November  223, 2011    

As former President John Fitzgerald Kennedy once said, “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” 

Psalm 100:4-5 says, “4 Be thankful and praise the LORD as you enter his temple. 5 The LORD is good! His love and faithfulness will last forever. ” 

So let us all as we gather around the table, give thanks remembering all the ways we are so blessed and our history. 

Historically, President Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving to be a national holiday of which we all celebrate the last Thursday of November. Travel back in time with me, as I briefly tell of the story of the very first Thanksgiving shared between the Pilgrims and the Native Americans. 

The Pilgrims came over on the Mayflower 6 September 1620. Half the Pilgrims perished during the harsh New England winter; yet God was faithful and love unfaltering. Samoset and Squanto, Native Americans, demonstrated to the Pilgrims how to plant food. 

Likewise, the Fall of 1621 produced an abundant Harvest. In thanks to their new Indian friends, the Pilgrims shared the first Thanksgiving meal with them.  

We now celebrate Thanksgiving day and give thanks because of the many ways God has blessed you and me. The point of Thanksgiving is to be thankful to God for the many blessings that you and I take for granted, as well as, saying thank-you to each other. 

In my own words, giving thanks is more than two words combined by a hyphen; it is a way of life. Giving thanks is something we are to do every moment of the day for every day of our lives; because as William Jennings Bryan once said, “On Thanksgivings Day we acknowledge our dependence [upon God].”  

To understand what it means to be thankful; first understand the two words “give” & “thanks”. TO GIVE THANKS, it simply means you are thankful 12 months out of the year, 365 days a year, 7 days a week, and 24 hours a day; and you are thankful in times of hardship as well in times of plenty. 

Here are some tips on giving thanks: Thank God for the food you have, for every breath you take, in the little things, for the house/ place you live, for the clothes you have, the job you have or will have, and for everything you possess; because everything we have is a gift from God and we are to be thankful at all times giving thanks in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:18). 

Travel down memory lane with me to the Thanksgiving Days you had at Grandma and Grandpa’s house to eat a meal shared with your family as you reminisced of all the goings-on of the times spent apart from each other. Recall the reason why you all gathered together and all the enjoyment of celebrating the blessing shared in being together with the people you love who love you back. 

For me thanks-giving meant celebrating two birthdays, visiting with family I rarely if ever see, playing card games, and of course eating that delicious meal with all the people you love. Being with the people I love was what made Thanksgiving so unforgettable. Yet it was more than that to me. 

Anytime my family got together at my Grandma & Grandpa Tanner’s house it was so full of people and love was abundant. Sure the food was the highlight of our family get-togethers, but for me the best part was playing card games and opening my birthday presents. So each year we met in Erie, Pennsylvania to celebrate two birthdays, play cards, eat Oreos, have apple & pumpkin pie, catch up with loved ones, and to be thankful as one to God for all we had in each other. 

In summing it all up, we celebrate Thanksgiving not just because of apple & pumpkin pie, turkey, chicken, mashed potatoes & gravy, cranberry sauce, stuffing, rolls, watching football in the T.V., and all the rest; we celebrate because we are thankful to God for all that we have in each other and in everything. Hence, America is so rich in abundance of blessings that we all take for granted, do not let this moment or any day pass you by in which you fail to say Thanks to God and to give thanks. So now let us reflect on what a few once said as we remember to be thankful in everything. 

As William Shakespeare once said, “O Lord that lends me life, Lend me a heart replete with thankfulness!” 

I think Charles Dickens put it best when he said, “Reflect upon your present blessings of which every man has many - not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.”

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