By Ray Knapp
I still recall my 5-year-old granddaughter’s words of wisdom from a dozen years ago as we followed my wife through the Johnson City Walmart. She had taken a wrong turn through the toy department. Haley ran up to some toy – I forget what it was, and was inspecting it closely. “Would you like me to get you that for Christmas? “I asked. “No, Papa, we have to get through Thanksgiving first.”
I liked that. I don’t need to repeat what has been said and observed for decades. Thanksgiving and its true meaning have fallen by the wayside much like Christmas. I don’t think that is honestly what a majority of the people across this nation think, but businesses in their pursuit of the all mighty dollar, have forgotten about the ALL MIGHTY and pushed Him out of the picture with slick advertising campaigns.
Abraham Lincoln’s Proclamation of Thanksgiving of Oct. 3, 1863, is probably the best of all proclamations concerning Thanksgiving. It reads, “I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.”
Somehow, in the Amazon led frenzy to buy an expensive Christmas gift or gifts for you or someone, the words of Honest Abe in his solemn Thanksgiving proclamation are trampled underfoot by shoppers that are waiting to break down doors at the mall or Walmart on Black Friday. The more tech savvy shoppers have moved past that and have their ears attuned, listening for that special chime or other noise coming from their iPad or cell phone notifying them that the app for whoever has the best deal on whatever they have in mind to buy has been located.
This year Thanksgiving falls on the 28th, the latest Thursday it can fall on in November. The last time this occurred was back in 2013. When this happens, it causes a panic among retailers due to nearly a week’s less shopping days between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
However, as mentioned earlier, a majority of people do agree with Abraham Lincoln’s Proclamation concerning Thanksgiving. Locally, and across the nation, many churches and civic/service organizations prepare hundreds of thousands of meals and food baskets for the homeless and less fortunate.
Also – and at times, almost overlooked are our country’s military. Many civilians do not know that America has soldiers, sailors and airmen stationed in 80 countries around the world, many in harm’s way – as well as those on ships and submarines at sea. Having been there, away from home on Thanksgiving, I empathize with them. Though I had a full belly, there was an empty place in my heart, missing my family, especially the children on this day.
A Thanksgiving that stands out in my memory happened when I was six. This was just after the end of WW2 and the whole nation was in a celebratory as well as thankful mood. It was an unusually warm and sunny day. A car drove up about midmorning as us kids were out in the yard playing, and out stepped two beautiful young women in pretty dresses and high heels. They smelled like lilacs.
They made their way to the front porch. “Hello, Aunt Fay,” they sang out to mom as she came out to greet them. It turned out they were cousins, Fern and Georgia, that I had never met. They carried with them large bowls of desserts.
We started to follow them in the house, but mom shooed us younger ones back to play in the yard. Finally, the long-awaited meal was ready and mom called us into the house; somehow, everyone found a place to set. No one was digging in as usual. “Your cousin, Fern, has volunteered to ask the blessing,” mom said. I heard the first of many Thanksgiving blessings that day. Fern ended the blessing with these words: “Always be thankful for what you have. Amen.”
It’s funny how you remember words of wisdom heard for the first time.