It#8217;s a time Thanksgiving

Published 12:00 am Monday, October 22, 2007

Thanksgiving is only a few weeks away and then can Christmas be far behind? Many traditions are associated in our minds with Thanksgiving. There are all the traditional foods, such as turkey, dressing, yams, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie.

We usually anticipate all our family gathered around the table, laughing, happy and enjoying each other’s company. It is a time to be thankful for all God has given us. We should do that every day of our lives but it is nice to have a day set aside to remember how blessed we are.

Our family has grown to about twenty. That’s a pretty good crowd around the table and it is wonderful. We take turns going around the table telling each other what we feel the most thankful for in our lives. It is sometimes difficult to express it all. But as I look around that table on Thanksgiving, I can see that a great deal of my thanksgiving is sitting there with me.

Our pastor at Center Grove and one of our deacons just returned from a trip to Kenya. Pastor Tommy Kiker spoke to the children Sunday morning about doing shoeboxes for Samaritan’s Purse. It is something our church has been doing for the last couple of years. It came about because a missionary we support was in Africa and we wanted to help bring Christmas to some of those children.

Pastor Kiker told of a child in Kenya who was excited over having his empty water bottle to play with and another child who pushed a stick with a plastic lid attached. It seems such a small thing to get excited over when we see what our children have.

He said those small shoeboxes would probably contain more toys than most of those children would have their whole lives. How heartrending to know how blessed we are and how little some others have. This year I intend to do more than I have in the past because he made me feel the needs of others so clearly.

I know there are some who say we should start at home and that’s true. Our church participates in a regional toyshop for those in our area that would not otherwise have anything for Christmas. We have also helped individuals.

This year when you sit down to your Thanksgiving dinner whether it’s lavish or meager, remember those who have so much less. And this year, sacrifice a little for them. Make someone else’s life a little better and I guarantee it will make your life better too.

How did our holiday of Thanksgiving come about? We all know the Pilgrim settlers set a day after their first harvest in 1621 for an autumn celebration of food, feasting, and praising God. The Native Americans of that area were invited to join them in the feast.

Diaries of those settlers tell us about the time.

It lasted for three days. That was quite a thanksgiving celebration. This is the beginning most of us learned when we were in school but there is more.

In 1789, George Washington designated a national thanksgiving holiday for the newly ratified Constitution, so the people may thank God for &uot;affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness&uot; and for having &uot;been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted, for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed…&uot;

Presidents George Washington, John Adams and James Madison issued two proclamations each of Thanksgiving for the nation. President Lincoln, who made two during the Civil War, declared Thanksgiving a Federal holiday as a &uot;prayerful day of Thanksgiving&uot; on the last Thursday in November. President Franklin D. Roosevelt set the date for Thanksgiving to the fourth Thursday of November in 1939.

Since the founding of our country, people have always known we are blessed to live in America. Troubles we have plenty but who on earth does not?

It is still the best place to live and we should be thankful. And thankful for all those past and present who have made it possible for us to live in a country that allows it’s citizen the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Remember all the things you have to be thankful for this year and give someone else a few extra reasons to be thankful that you are on this earth with them.

It’s may seem a little early to talk about Thanksgiving but it is not too early to be thankful.

Sylvia Hughes of Windsor is a regular contributor to the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald. She can be reached by emailing