Americans are constantly changing creatures. We fiddle with and tinker with everything. In some respects, it is our genius. America has taken ideas, inventions and changed them to fit our needs and our wants, mostly our wants.
Take the celebration of Thanksgiving. From its origins as a day of public prayer and giving thanks to God for the blessing we enjoy, we have slowly turned Thanksgiving into a secular festival of consumption. Not that anyone should get the impression I don't enjoy Thanksgiving in its current form. I will be watching the Cowboys play football and enjoying the smell of the roasting turkey and pumpkin pies with the rest of you, however I will try to remind our family about the message behind the holiday. Giving thanks, and especially giving thanks to God.
2008 has been a year that has seen many changes for our nation. With all the economic turmoil we are facing, it would be easy to think 2008 has been a very bad year for everyone. For those hit hardest by the housing market crash, they are facing real pain and things can seem bleak. However, while the news gives us daily reminders of the tough times we face, there are many thing to celebrate as we gather with our families.
The long and costly war in Iraq is coming to end. Thanks to the men and women in our armed forces, the Iraqi people are slowly gaining back control of their country, a reality that would have been laughed at and ridiculed only two years ago. There are units that have been patrolling in Iraq for months and rotated out without firing a shot. The sacrifice our soldier have made is incredible, but it always is. This group of young, and not so young men and women are truly a blessing to our nation. If you see a soldier in uniform this week, take a moment to say thank you.
We have just been through a historic election and while the emotions on both sides are still a bit raw from the contest, the fact that once again Americans have peacefully passed the reins of power to a new person from the opposing party is something that is originally American. It is almost amazing considering how power is gained through most of the world.
This year I will be enjoying the holidays with my family, and for that, I give thanks. If you are hosting a big Thanksgiving day feast for a huge crowd, a word of advice, delegate, delegate, delegate. Our group will probably be around 18 or so and that is a lot of work. Some of you are probably dreading a visit by that one particular family member who gets on your nerves, but don't let them get you down. Every family has that one 'special' relative that makes you think evil thoughts when sharpening your carving knife. Just relax and take a look around your table. Enjoy this time spent with the ones you love, they will not be around forever. Cherish this time, right now, you can't get it back.
I know that for some families in our community this will be the first Thanksgiving without a cherished loved one who has been lost. Lean on your friends and family, and especially lean on God. You will make it through.
As we become busy with all the planning, cooking, and travel arrangements, lets try to remember the big picture. George Washington's original Thanksgiving Day proclamation is a far cry from the image of a 100 foot SpongeBob Square Pants floating down Broadway in a parade, but hey, this is who we are. Americans like to have fun, and I hope all those who line the streets watching the parades and those who quietly sit down to watch football have a great Thanksgiving Day. If you could, please try to remember the why behind the what.
P.S. - for all you 3AM Black Friday shoppers; I will be thinking of you as I sit in my comfy chair with my slippers enjoying a relaxing cup of coffee Friday morning.