Happy Thanksgiving, America! 

Published 3:48 pm Tuesday, November 23, 2021

By Chris Quilpa

Thank God, we’re alive, hopeful and grateful. Having this attitude of gratitude makes our life wonderful and worthwhile.

Thank God for Sarah Josepha Hale of New Hampshire who initiated the efforts to make this celebration a long-lasting tradition. Founder of the periodical American Ladies Magazine in 1837 and the editor of another, the Godey’s Lady Book, she campaigned for the Thanksgiving holiday nationwide. She wrote letters to U.S. presidents urging them to have a national day of thanks, amidst all the turmoil and political and religious indifferences our country was in. Because of her advocacy, she earned the title “Mother of Thanksgiving.” In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday of November as national Thanksgiving Day.

The importance of Thanksgiving as a national or federal holiday for all Americans, wherever they may be, cannot be underestimated, especially now that we need it to show to the world that we dare to care to give thanks, that we love to share and partake together in whatever blessings we have — family, food, fortune, faith, friendship and fellowship.

What a wonderful feeling recalling my first Thanksgiving Day in America, at my sister Betty’s house, a few weeks after I arrived here as a permanent resident in 1983. (After working for two years as a civilian, I joined the U.S. Navy in 1985. I became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1989.)

New to any national holidays in the U.S., with exception of Fourth of July, I thought that it was just another celebration with food, family and friends. That turkey was the biggest one I’ve ever seen in my life! And that was my first time eating turkey, too, because back in the Philippines, we eat mostly chicken, pork and beef, and a wide variety of fresh vegetables and tropical fruits.

Along with my three younger siblings who came here, I had a great time with my sister and her family and friends. There was plenty of food on the table, and we feasted while having fun watching football, an unfamiliar game to me that time. (Thankfully, through the years, I’ve learned to like watching it.)

Years later, I realized the significance of Thanksgiving Day in America. It’s a special day for family and friends to give thanks to Almighty God.

Despite all odds, and the COVID-19 pandemic that hopefully and prayerfully will be over, we overcome, and we celebrate holidays with others.

On Thanksgiving Day, I pray: “Almighty God, I thank you that we’re alive and well. Thank you for all the blessings you’ve showered upon us: my sister Betty and her family; Aunt Emiliana, our families united together in these trying times, our neighbors and friends near and far.

“Thank you for the settlers that inspired us to be brave, strong, optimistic and hopeful. Thank you to our government leaders who have worked hard to make America great. Thank you to our religious leaders for guiding us and inspiring and increasing our faith.

“Thank you to our teachers, volunteers, innovators, scientists, doctors, nurses and caregivers, law enforcement officers, and our dedicated and hardworking farmers for all their efforts in making America a great and powerful nation.

“Thank you to our journalists, writers, artists, actors, singers, athletes for entertaining us and reminding us that despite the issues confronting our country and the world, we can still manage to celebrate our humanity.

“Thank you, Lord, for our veterans, our service members who have gone or are here and abroad, fighting for freedom and peace, and their families for the sacrifices they made.

“I pray, Dear God, that our homeless, especially our veterans, will find shelter and comfort this cold holiday season and beyond. May your light and love shine before us all, Lord.”

These I pray, in Jesus name, Amen.”

Happy Thanksgiving! May God bless America always.

 

Chris A. Quilpa, a retired U.S. Navy veteran, lives in Suffolk, Chesapeake and Portsmouth. Email him at chris.a.quilpa@gmail.com.