November is here and it brings with it one of the most important American holidays-Thanksgiving!
If you’re not familiar with it, Americans celebrate Thanksgiving to commemorate the first Thanksgiving feast between the Puritan settlers and the First Nations People (Native American Indians).
The Puritans were a group of people who were persecuted for their religious practices in England. They had disagreements with the way the Church of England and Catholic Church were practicing Christianity and they refused to take part in certain practices mandated by the church and were persecuted for it. To find religious freedom, they immigrated to “The New World”. They landed in the north eastern part of what we now call the United States of America, a place with an extremely hard winter climate. Many of the original settlers died from disease, were killed, or they just could not survive the winter.
Some of the First Nations groups helped the Puritans by teaching them about food they could eat and how to survive off the land. When they had their first bountiful harvest, these groups of people came together for a celebration feast. They celebrated the abundance of their harvest, knowing they would have enough food for the winter challenges that lay ahead.
This is important for Americans because one of the founding principles on which our nation was built is religious freedom; it’s a value we proudly hold dear. Thanksgiving is a time for sharing a meal with family and friends, a time to be with each other and rest, and a time of nostalgia as we eat traditional foods and watch American football.
As Christians there are more layers to this holiday. We take a moment to pause and give thanks for all that we have and all God has done in our lives. Much of the year we, well I, am busy and I’m worried. I’m busy working to provide a home for my children, I worry about all the things they could face in this world, I worry about if we’ll have enough. I worry about whether or not I am enough. I think about all that I lack.
The Thanksgiving season is a time to focus on our abundance. We celebrate with an abundance of food and we share it in community. We pause and reflect on all that we have and remember all the ways God has provided for us over the last year. We simply pause to reflect and say thank you. We hold this in our heart because we know that the next year may bring hardship, but God has been faithful and He’ll continue to provide for our needs.
In many American households you will find traditional foods such as roasted turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole, and pumpkin and apple pie. Fall is the season for American football and there are special annual football games on Thanksgiving Day and weekend. The air is generally crisp and cool and the leaves have fallen off the trees or are still in beautiful colors on their branches. It’s really a wonderful time.
The American holiday season (October-January 1)can be an incredibly busy season with Thanksgiving often overlooked. It’s smack in the middle between Halloween and Christmas, and sometimes can feel like just one more thing on a packed to do list.
I encourage you to take this Thanksgiving, even if this isn’t your tradition, to take a moment to pause the business and simply breath. Take a moment to give thanks. Take a day to enjoy the present moment. Reflect on the abundance you have and it will make the lack seem less. Focusing on what we have diminishes the sense of not having enough.
If the past year has been hard, then simply enjoy the present day. Take a minute to pause and do something you enjoy. Gather hope for the coming winter and rest before you move forward.
May you rest in your abundance have hope for the coming year!