Thanksgiving to God

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 27, 2002

Recent events required me to report on the beating death of an 8-month-old infant, followed by attending the funeral of the child. I never knew that baby I saw placed into a 36-inch coffin. She went into the ground long before she even had a chance to learn there are some good people in this world.

Now, as I prepare our Thanksgiving feast, I think of how it will be today in that home where one small angel is absent from the table. I realize that in spite of everything, we all have so much to be thankful for, including our children given to us as a gift from God. In return for such precious gifts, we are to show appreciation and love and kindness, benefits already bestowed upon us by a loving, compassionate Heavenly Father.

Today, as we all sit down to tables filled with the bounty of our efforts we should all give thanks to God by praising him with our words and maybe even a song. At our home, after we’re all satiated with that sleep-inducing turkey, we all enjoy our version of a &uot;Mitch Miller Sing-a-Long.&uot; (Is anyone else out there old enough to remember those?) With a karaoke machine, microphones for wanna’ be pop stars, guitars for the Tar Heel cowboys, and keyboards for those with itchy fingers, we gather to &uot;make a joyful noise unto the Lord.&uot;

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The Lord doesn’t mind that some of us are off-key or miss a note on the keyboard, or we may even shake that tambourine a little too loudly in our praising of his name. He just smiles and says, &uot;Well done.&uot; Simply because we chose to spend that time in singing praises to Him, singing of His wonderful compassion for us with &uot;Amazing Grace,&uot; and recalling the &uot;Sweet Hour of Prayer&uot; so enjoyed as we pray for his mercy on us; sinners.

Thanksgiving is also a time when families come together and traditions are created and memories made to last as long as we breathe. Again, I think of a little angel… She’s gone home to be with her Heavenly Father. One who will cherish her for all time.

This day with its gathering of families is also historically special as it was one of the first legal holidays in the United States. It was first celebrated in Early Colonial days in New England. The actual origin is believed to be the harvest festivals (like Suffolk’s famed Peanut Fest) that are traditional in many parts of the world.

The first colonists completed their harvest in 1621 and Governor William Bradford proclaimed &uot;a day of thanksgiving and prayer.&uot; It was shared between the colonists and neighboring American Indians.

In 1623, a drought brought on a day of fasting and prayer and that day was later changed to one of thanksgiving because the rain came during the prayer services.

Then, in 1817, New York State adopted &uot;Thanksgiving Day&uot; as an annual custom. By mid-19th Century, many other states adopted the special day.

In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln appointed a day of thanksgiving, and each succeeding president has issued a &uot;Thanksgiving Day Proclamation,&uot; designating the fourth Thursday of November each year as a holiday.

As a servant of God and a servant of the people for whom I write, I would like to ask each reader to stop and think of what you have to be thankful for this day. It it’s only for five minutes, stop and thank God that you’re still able to read this print, that you have a meal, that you even drew that breath just now. After all, he gave us an entire year’s worth of blessings since last Thanksgiving.

Barbara Lee Allen is a staff writer for the Suffolk News-Herald.