Fr. Matt Gworek
October 8 was a very strange day for me. It was a good day, and a festive one at that, but a strange day. Now if you’ve forgotten, October 8 was this year’s date for Thanksgiving, so of course it would be a festive time. It’s a time for coming together. It’s a time for celebrating.
It’s a time for eating. It’s a time to give thanks. All of that sounds great, doesn’t it? What, then, would make Thanksgiving strange? Well, it’s simple. It happened on the wrong day.
You see, the Thanksgiving I know takes place in November. As an American, that’s just when we do it. This year it happens to fall on Thursday, November 22. We come together. We celebrate. We eat. We give thanks. All the same stuff. But we don’t do it until the fourth Thursday in November. When October 8 came around and everyone was celebrating Thanksgiving, then, I’ll admit it was kind of strange. Strange but good. It actually ended up being very nice. My parents were able to come visit that weekend, and we had the opportunity to spend time together and eat a delicious meal. It was like… well, it was like Thanksgiving.
And because it was Thanksgiving, I had that yearly chance to really give thanks for many of the wonderful blessings of my life. The delicious food we were eating, the path that God has put me on, the unexpected opportunities that have come my way… There’s plenty to be thankful for, and so on that day of thanks, I paused and tried to be appreciative. That’s something that happens on Thanksgiving, right? We stop, realise that the day is called “Thanks-giving,” and make sure that we take at least a quick moment to give thanks.
It’s a useful exercise to do, and whether it’s done in a more formal or informal way, it really does add to the “thanks” aspect of the holiday.
Now, among those other things, one of the many blessings that I was thankful for on that October Thanksgiving day was certainly my family in Connecticut. As it happens, I get the chance to head home and join them for a few days this week, and while I’m there, I’ll get to celebrate Thanksgiving. American Thanksgiving. My second Thanksgiving of the year. It’s kind of a neat and quirky thing, and as I’ve thought more and more about it, a question has emerged in my mind: if I’m going to double my Thanksgiving, does that mean I should also double my thanks giving? Now, that’s surely a bit of a silly question. The amount of special holiday turkey you eat doesn’t actually have any real correlation to the amount of thanks you should give. At the same time, though, it’s made me consider how much thanks I should be giving, and if I’m giving enough.
The Bible is pretty clear on the issue. We should be offering our thanks a lot. “Give thanks to the Lord for he is good,” Psalm 107:1
announces, “his mercy endures forever!” Or, if you’re a little more love-centric, 1 Chronicles 16:34
states, “Give thanks to the Lord, who is good, whose love endures forever.”
And if you’re more comfortable with a New Testament reference, 1 Thessalonians 5:18 declares, “In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.”
Giving thanks is something we’re called to do and to do often. It doesn’t say “give thanks every once in a while.” It doesn’t say “give thanks on that one special day each year.” It says, “In all circumstances give thanks.”
I don’t know if I do that. Well actually, if I’m being honest, I do know, and I don’t do that. There are plenty of circumstances in which I could give more thanks, in which I should give more thanks. There are plenty of circumstances in which I really should pause for an extra moment, almost like its Thanksgiving,
and allow myself to more fully appreciate the people, the situations, and the blessings that are a part of my life. It’s something that I can certainly get better at, and what better day to start this year than on (my second) Thanksgiving?
Like I said from the start, October 8 was a very strange day for me, but it’s also given me the gift of the rare double Thanksgiving, the gift of being reminded in a new and unique way of how important it is to give thanks
. Will I turn this double Thanksgiving into a true effort of double thanks giving? Only time will tell. But what I do know is that as I have the chance to head home for another Thanksgiving this week, I’ll try my best to be thankful on that wonderful day and to continue to “Give thanks to the Lord” as often as I can.
Whether or not you’ll be celebrating a holiday this Thursday, I hope that you might find the time to do the same.
Second Photo courtesy of: (CNS photo Nancy Wiechec.)