Music and the Spoken Word

A Time to Give Thanks - Sunday, November 23, 2014

A time to give thanks for life’s bounties and blessings deserves a place on our calendars and in our hearts. Despite problems personal and global—or perhaps because of them—taking time to count our blessings is good for the soul.

Thanksgiving commemorates more than just an episode in our national history; it celebrates our deepest roots and highest ideals. It may be the only time when Grandma’s good china comes out of the closet, but its meaning is deeper than that, even holy: to gather, express love, and consider our blessings—including the many good things we usually take for granted.

One family brings out a “thankful box” each year at this time. Throughout the day, family members write down, on little slips of paper, things they’re thankful for and stuff them in the box. After dinner, the box is opened and the papers are read aloud. The comments range from the silly to the profound, but all invite the family to pause and reflect on their blessings. It takes just a few minutes, but it has become a cherished tradition.

For some, a day of thanksgiving may be nothing more than a big meal, a stressful day of preparing and fussing. For others, it might be a day to watch sports. But the significance of the day is not found in food and entertainment. For those who intentionally make it a day to give thanks and strengthen bonds, the Thanksgiving holiday is one of the most meaningful and satisfying of the year.

At the height of the Civil War, when it may not have felt natural or easy to pause and give thanks, Abraham Lincoln said this in a timeless Thanksgiving proclamation: “The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God.”1

It is this spirit of gratitude—for blessings large and small, in times of abundance and trial—that turns our hearts heavenward. Truly, we all need a time to give thanks.

-Lloyd D. Newell

1. Thanksgiving Day Proclamation, Oct. 3, 1863, National Archives, http://research.archives.gov/description/299960.