“What are you thankful for?” That question triggers reflection on this national holiday. I allow events of the past to run through my mind and I invite you to do the same.
I remember as a child making and coloring turkeys in art classes, doing a play for the PTA with costumes of Pilgrims and Native Americans. Our family attended Mass on Thanksgiving. Mom baked two big stuffed turkeys, potatoes, fresh veggies and pumpkin pie with whipped cream. One of my favorite memories of my father is recalling how he carved the turkeys. We had lots of visitors for the feast, so he had to be efficient in his role. One memory of my mother was how hard she worked to prepare the Thanksgiving dinner.
As a high school student, I remember learning about the origins of our Thanksgiving holiday and how President Lincoln made his 1864 proclamation calling upon the whole nation to celebrate the last Thursday of November:
I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, do hereby appoint and set apart the last Thursday in November next as a day which I desire to be observed by all my fellow-citizens, wherever they may then be, as a day of thanksgiving and praise to Almighty God, the beneficent Creator and Ruler of the Universe.
Americans still read that proclamation before Thanksgiving Day celebrations in houses of worship. We observe that custom at our Saint Anthony Shrine where I am assigned here in Cincinnati. Such language in a public document is striking at a time when religion is waning in today’s secular culture.
What are you thankful for today? Whom do you thank?