True Meaning of Thanksgiving

Listening Faithfully Blog 2014 Post

18 “give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:18

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In past posts I have talked about Thanksgiving in the historical sense, explored the religious meaning, and I have delved into both sides of the human drama, (that being of the Native Americans and the English Pilgrims),  from a moral view.  But this year I wanted to write about what it means in a more detailed manner from the general view of family.

The very word, “Family”,  is the root that brought about the fight for freedom both here on Earth and in Heaven. In a broad sense God uses “family” as the template of every social group known to man. In every way we learn and grow from the bounty of our families. But this interaction is not exclusive to humanity rather almost every other bioligal life form that we know of on this planet thrives through lessons learned which both develop and mold such things as character, morality, compassion, survival, and even the idea of justice at some basic level. In the animal kingdom there is social order and hierarchical structures that are put in place to teach and which promotes the survival of the group or family. So in this broad sense family is the root of survival. But what does this hypothesis have to do with Thanksgiving, a man made tradition turned Federal Holiday? Well for this I share a deep secret found throughout the Christian Bible.

God is called the father! What is a father? In olden days a father was the head of the house, the disciplinarian, provider, protector, leader, mentor, teacher, and general supporter of all family activities. The same is true for Priests who are also called father for the same reasons but within a religious context.  Thus, it is from the father our families find a foundation and in this we see God as the head of every family both secular and religious. This structure within our families is from the divine and is pre-programmed into us from the start. In our celebration of family we are celebrating our very nature which we share with the animal kingdom under God. Because we are all related we are told by God to give thanks for the many blessings we receive from the father that which is in heaven from which everything is given. So Thanksgiving is the celebration of both blessings we receive throughout the year and is a celebration of  our families; the survival they provide on a daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly basis independent of our religious beliefs.

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In examining Thanksgiving from this perspective I asked my fourth grade students to write seven sentences about what they are thankful for and it is not surprising to me that they overwhelmingly wrote about their families. Few of them wrote about God though I teach in a Private Catholic School. Still fewer mentioned their teachers and the support we give them. Rather the majority was focused on their families love, kindness, sacrifice, and the many things they receive daily from their families. Many of those things are the necessities of life in general. Their paragraphs became evident to me of how we are all programmed by God to need the same things from birth till death. At the core of this need is the family unit!

So this Thanksgiving I celebrate the family in all of its forms be it biological, religious, social, political, economic, traditional and non traditional, friendships, and in a global community of beings sharing the same Earth, the same resources, and sharing the same needs. For it is within God the father’s plan that we celebrate our shared blessings, our shared needs, as well as our differences. Thus, I say to you in Jesus’s name are we to love one another and to jointly celebrate the role our many different types of families provide as it is granted first from God the father who art in heaven.

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Have a joyous Thanksgiving and remember to celebrate all things which are good that God has made.

I also ask that you keep the family and friends of our beloved sister Theresa Marie Mehan, born June 18, 1922 and who went to meet the Our Lord this past November 18, 2014 in your prayers this holiday season. 

If you liked, “True Meaning of Thanksgiving” I invite you to stay in contact with me via the following ways:

Amen

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Special Thanksgiving Message 2010: The Gospel of Giving

“If a woman has ten silver coins, what will she do if she loses one? She’ll light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully. When she finds it, she will call her friends and neighbors and say to them, ‘Let’s celebrate! I’ve found the coin that was lost” (The Lost Gospel Q, Q72, Pp. 107).

This morning when I awoke, I took a drive early in the morning. I saw the streets where empty and few cars on the road. It was as if everyone was still asleep and or already at their relatives houses where they were to spend this most special of days we call Thanksgiving. As I drove I remembered how I used to get up early and would make my way into the kitchen, letting my noise lead the way. Upon arriving there I would find my mother and grandma preparing the day’s feast. Their warm smiles as they looked down at me filled my heart with love. I remember being greeted with a tight, good-morning hug and wonderful smells of delicious foods. My grandmother would offer me some of her prized rolls she had just finished cooking and they were piping hot and the heat would instantly melt the butter she would spread on top of them. For most Americans Thanksgiving is about delicious foods, carefully prepared, served with love. But most of all Thanksgiving boils down to time spent with one’s family. Spending time with those whom we hold most dear. In the years following as I grew older and family either moved, or went to meet God, Thanksgiving was never really the same. As time passed I guess I have been searching for a place, a smell, and hug, even the warmth I had felt when I was a boy. In the many Thanksgivings since, I have spent many of them alone, far away from family, at first because I was serving my country in the United States Navy, then because I was married and lived to far away to be present with my parents and sisters. Then in the many years after my divorce I would spent time with my daughter and never had much money to make Thanksgiving as special for her as it had been for me. In this past year and a half of strife with my ex-wife the time with my daughter became nonexistent, which was all very unnecessary. I allow you to see my life through a window, not to gain sympathy, but rather to illustrate my search, this journey I put myself on, one which left me longing for that one most basic of human needs throughout the holidays. A search which has left me more alone than words can express. It was as if I had ten silver coins and had lost one.

Human nature drives us to look more closely at what we are missing than to be thankful for what we have. As hard as it is to admit my lonely holidays where spent searching for the love I still had, but I was more concerned about the physical celebration of that which I perceived I was missing out on. In truth I have become spiritually blind to the presents of God in my life during the holidays. I put way to much importance on this notion that the room was empty, the morning smells of food being prepared was not there anymore. My house was devoid of laughter and good cheer, when in fact God was calling my name, to which I never responded, partly out of anger for God allowing me to be so alone at such a joyous time of the year. I now can see how mistaken I was.

I write this because I know there are many people who are not going to spend the holidays with their loved ones, for a myriad of different reasons. I know your pain; I know what you are thinking and what you are feeling. Know I have been there, to that dark place of emptiness and despair. So the first part of this message is for you. God is calling you, he is reaching out to you, and it does not matter where in the world that you are, God loves you, cares for you, and wants to comfort you. Don’t make my mistake and reject his call this Thanksgiving or holiday season. Don’t allow yourself to fall into that great temptation that everyone should be together before you feel that holiday spirit. Because in truth no matter who is with you, be them friend, co-worker, or stranger, lift up your head as if you found that missing silver coin. Celebrate and rejoice in what you have, and God will fill your spirit, he will lift you up and give you that warmth you crave.

“Give, and there will be gifts for you. A full measure of grain, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap; because the amount you measure out is the amount you will be given back” (Lost Gospel Q, Q18, Pp. 51).

As I drove this morning another thought came to me, one of the history of Thanksgiving. Each year I take great joy in teaching this to the student at my school. I love showing them websites and videos that illustrate the giving spirit that allowed enemies to become vast allies. In truth, as I say to my many students, “The American Indians did not have to take pity upon the pilgrims.  They did not have to show them any kind of mercy what so ever. After all it was the pilgrims that was invading their land, there sacred space, but the natives did anyway.” I think in the back of my mind for as educated as the pilgrims thought they were they had no clue how to survive in the wild places of the Earth. They left Europe because of religious principals, but when their stomachs grew hungry, the many diseases set in, and the chill of the long winter nights began to claim lives, it was the Indians who showed more christian attributes than did the pilgrims. How strange I think for a native people who had never been thought the word of God, to be more christianly than those who fleet their own country because they felt others were not being christianly towards them. But it was through the hardship, God worked out a wonderful miracle, for as one people reached out to another a bond was formed and a nation grew out of that bond. God truly blessed it, and Thanksgiving is that great celebration we all hold dear in remembrance of that bond of charity. It is very true, what you give to others in need you will be given back a thousand fold.

If you are a follower of Listening Faithfully you know I normally don’t endorse websites, or ask for money or donations. I try very hard to stay away from that on this site. However, in the spirit of this Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday I would like everyone to simply go to a new blog I am writing, one that is very much in the spirit of giving to those who have not or less than. This new blog is called, The Gospel of Giving, and can be found @ http://gospelofgiving.wordpress.com/. This blog is dedicated to raising money for special causes and I pray that these are shared with everyone whom you know, and that if there is something extra you can give you take the time and give in remembrance of these two special sayings of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I also simply ask that if you have a cause that will greatly impact the lives of children, the elderly, or any persons who are in need of relief from tyranny or abuse to please feel free to email me @ listeningfaithfullyblog@gmail.com. Also stay in touch with Listening Faithfully and The Gospel of Giving through Twitter @ http://twitter.com/Listeninfaith.

Happy Thanksgiving to all whom have been present in my life over the years and to my daughter to which I love and miss greatly. I want to take special note and thank those at my College whom have held my hand through all my strife and misfortune. Thank you for never giving up, never wavering, even for a moment. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for the many words of encouragement and for constantly finding radical new was to support me throughout my journey through the vast world of Higher Education. I also want to thank all those whom are already giving to the private elementary school in which I have so faithfully served for over four years of my life. I think you all know that we serve through good times and bad not for the monetary reward, but for the many tiny blessings bestowed upon us each time one of our children smiles in recognition of the lessons we spend so much time in trying so desperately to teach them.  A special blessing goes out to all those teachers whom I have worked so closely with over my entire professional career in education in all three elementary schools to which I have poured out my heart for. Last but not least, to my mother, father, sisters and nieces and nephew, and to my most special new found love and her family, there is no greater joy than to see each one of you, to hear your laugh, to see your smiles, and to feel your love through each warm embrace. You all have helped to shape me into the man I am today, and I thank you for all the time it took. I also want to call attention to my closed of friends whom are within my inner most circle that which has bestowed upon me great joy, I thank you for being there through thick and thin, for making me smile when I was sad, for being taught with me when I wanted nothing more than to give up. It is these bonds which I cherish more than any of you shall ever know. I also want to thank each and every follower of this blog, I put so much time and energy into it, and hope you gain from my labor of love. We all have many things to be thankful for in this life, but mainly for having each other.

May God bless you all and keep you safe this holiday season.

Amen

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