In this digital revolution, it is still exciting to see an article you wrote in the paper. I am honored the Hendersonville Standard included my Thanksgiving message in Wednesday’s edition. The irony for this post, the article is not posted on line, yet. :-). But, I put it in this blog for those who want to read on a holiday. Happy Thanksgiving to all!
This year may be the most significant Thanksgiving you have ever experienced. Like many observers of culture, I have been alarmed how the original intent of the Thanksgiving holiday has digressed in recent decades. The consumerism of Black Friday has demanded fathers, grandmothers, teenagers, and all types of people work retail on Thanksgiving night. Movie theatres debuted holiday blockbusters that packed theatres. Sports continue to fill up television each hour of the holiday. While I admit that I have participated in these activities and enjoyed the freedom to do so, too much of these indulgences felt untrue to the holiday’s purpose.
Thanksgiving holiday originated out of terrible pain. The Pilgrims left England on August 5, 1620. After one ship malfunctioned and others changed their mind, 102 Pilgrims crowded on one ship, the Mayflower. After several delays in England, they had seven weeks of difficult sailing. November 9, 1620, they first spotted land, which is now Cape Cod. The exploration crew found abandoned corn (even though they had never eaten corn before). This corn would sustain them that first winter. God had providentially provided this corn to help the Pilgrims survive. Still, it was a brutal winter. When the worst was over, 47 had died, almost half the original number. Our American Thanksgiving is a story of survival, provision, destiny, loss, grace and miracles.
From that group of pilgrims, the American Experiment’s genesis began, and we are still benefiting from this ideal today. Over the decades, the prosperity of our nation gave options for travel, entertainment, and leisure. This pursuit of happiness is a way of life we enjoy and indulge in on Thanksgiving. Then, 2020 occurred.
Thanksgiving is different this year than any in recent memory. Theatres are closed, retail stores are pick-up only, and sports stadiums have vastly empty spaces – if any fans are allowed at all. Who would have imagined we would consider mitigation protocols when planning a family dinner?
Amidst our current national challenge, this is an appropriate time to give thanks to God. Being thankful does not mean your life is ideal. You may have experienced an unexpected loss this year. You may have altered holiday plans that have left you feeling discouraged and disappointed. Still, we do not give thanks to circumstances; we give thanks to someone. We give thanks to our God, who gives us the strength to endure any grief or trial. We thank our friends and family who stand with us on tough days to get us to better days. Remember the Pilgrims and reflect on God’s plan for your life. This may be a hard Thanksgiving in 2020, but a heart of gratitude will point us to better days.
Dr. Aaron Allison
CIL Church (Hendersonville)