Nov. 13, 1994
Soon it will be Thanksgiving. I'm beginning to think that
Thanksgiving has gone astray. We often hear that Christmas
celebrations have become too commercial. Is there something or
anything wrong with the last Thursday in November?
As a child I loved Thanksgiving. One in particular stands out in
my memory. It is almost unbelievable. You see we lived in
Massachusetts. Mother decided that she'd cook the whole thanksgiving
dinner, pack it in the car, drive a good three hours to Plymouth and
eat our dinner there. As we went a long we listened to Gus Saunder
on a Boston radio show talk about thanksgiving and food. We got to
Plymouth. Dad parked the car looking directly at the replica of the
Mayflower ship. Now you won't believe this - the dinner was still
very warm! After eating we went to the nearly candle shop and then
proceeded on to Cape Cod and to spend few days. Can you get more New
England than that?
Thanksgiving as it is celebrated is a custom surely started by
the pilgrims. As a child my history books explained all about them.
They came here for religious freedom. The picture in the book showed
these dear souls getting off the boat, looking fresh and clean. The
men had buckles on their shoes and on their hats. The women wore
white bonnets and white aprons. Three Indians waited on the shore
with a basket of corn. Then the history book explained - quite
rightly - that pilgrims had a dinner with the Indians to thank God
for the harvest and their survival.
The dinner is to thank God for the harvest. Perhaps farmers
understand the day the best. Is our present day celebration really a
thanking of God for our "harvest" or our blessings for that year? Or
is it often an attempt to see how much we can eat and not become
asphyxiated. And the turkey. Some doubt the pilgrims even had any.
Perhaps wild ones. The turkey has taken over the day. Today
Thanksgiving is to have turkey: no vegetarians allowed. The purpose
of the day is now threefold. 1. However many people prefer not to
eat turkey either out of kindness to animals or concern for
cholesterol. (Self boasting means the turkey has been injected with
coconut oil!) Turkey. 2. Overeating 3. Cranberries. In that order,
Isn't there more to the day than that. Shouldn't a national
holiday be more meaningful? Shouldn't a day of Thanksgiving to God
be more thankful? Perhaps a prayer service rather than a meal be
more appropriate? Shouldn't some time be spent thanking God for our
particular harvest: the money we earn; the particular results of our
work be it teaching, writing, art etc. Anyway, regardless how you
choose to spend the day here's a prayer for thanksgiving for all
Father in Heaven, Creator of all and source of all goodness and
love, please look kindly upon us and receive our heartfelt gratitude
in this time of giving thanks.
Thank you for all the graces and blessings. You have betowed upon
us, spiritual and temporal: our faith and religious heritage. Our
food and shelter, our health, the loves we have for one another, our
family and friends.
Dear Father, in Your infinite generosity, please grant us
continued graces and blessing throughout the coming year.
This we ask in the Name of Jesus, Your Son and our Brother. Amen.
Anyway the day could use a little more thought and a little less
Alka-selzer. We should each do what the pilgrims actually did: think
of a way we can give Thanks to God.
Br. Craig Driscoll, the founder of The Monks of Adoration, writes
frequently for Catholic publications.