Traditionally, every fourth Thursday in November is celebrated as Thanksgiving Day. However, Edward Sanford Martin, a graduate of Harvard University, a founder of the Harvard Lampoon, and the first literary editor of Life Magazine, had a totally different perspective about Thanksgiving Day. He said, “Thanksgiving Day comes, by statute, once a year; to the honest man it comes as frequently as the heart of gratitude will allow.”
Many people think of Thanksgiving Day as another day when family and friends from both near and far gather together for a day of feasting and celebration. Upon entering the home of their hosts, they smell the savory aroma of the delectable victuals prepared for the banquet that will soon be set before them. Besides the bounteous meal, it seems that no Thanksgiving Day would be complete without parades and football games to watch, and of course, there has to be some time set aside to catch on all of the latest family happenings and gossip.
However, amidst all the joy and excitement of family being together, how many people remember to take time to bow their heads and give thanks for the many blessings, both small and great, that the Lord has bestowed upon them? Is Thanksgiving Day truly a day of “Thanks Giving”? Or, is it simply another day to partake of a delicious meal, sit back, relax, and watch the festivities and football games on television?
As a young boy, I can recall that some of the most exciting times around our home occurred during the holidays. My beloved mother absolutely loved the holidays, and Thanksgiving Day was one of her favorites. She would spend the day before, and Thanksgiving morning carefully preparing the feast that we were to partake of later that day. I can still smell her homemade rolls, candied yams, and mouth-watering turkey cooking in the oven. There was also homemade dressing and gravy and some sort of vegetable. For dessert my mother would make delicious homemade sweet potato pies. I used to love to eat the left over dough that she had after making the pie crusts. When the meal was finally ready and set on the table, we would gather around as a family, and before anyone would have their first bite, we bowed our heads and gave thanks for our many blessings, the meal which was placed before us, and a special blessing upon the hands that had so lovingly prepared the meal.
Thanksgiving Day was not the only day that we paused to give thanks for the many blessings that we have received from above. From the age of small children and continuing into our adult years, we were taught that every day was a day of “Thanks Giving” because there is always something to be thankful for. How often are we found guilty of getting so caught up in the grandeur of things that we tend to miss or dismiss the small things that come into our lives to bless us as well? It is not the size of the blessings that should concern us, but rather the acknowledgement of those blessings which are bestowed upon us that should call for every day of our lives to be a day of Thanks Giving.
Faith and giving thanks are close friends. If you have faith in God, you will be thankful because you know His loving hand is upon you even if you are standing in a lion’s den, or facing the sweltering heat of a fiery furnace. Regardless of our circumstances or station in life, all of us have so much to be thankful for.
All of us here at Latter-day Saint Musicians wish to take this opportunity to wish all of you a Happy Thanksgiving. This week’s “Video Find of the Week,” called “Medley of Hymns of Gratitude” by acclaimed professional pianist and performer, Marvin Goldstein, can be used to help set the tone and to remind everyone of the true meaning of Thanksgiving.