Thanksgiving may be the only national holiday not tied to a date or event. At school, my grandchildren dressed up in paper pilgrim hats and bonnets or Indian headdresses. The celebration recalled a time when our native and immigrant fore-parents are said to have joined in a feast in 1621. It is notable, however, that President Lincoln's declaration creating the holiday makes no mention of that event or date. We could as justifiably recall the thanksgiving service held in Palo Duro Canyon by Spanish explorers a hundred years before the pilgrim landing. Or maybe we could adapt and adopt the thanksgiving commanded in Deuteronomy 26.
Given that it was Lincoln who declared the day of thanksgiving, we might have thought it should be a celebration of the end of a
war that nearly destroyed our nation. But that explanation doesn't fit for one reason: The war was not over. There was no victory to celebrate. Yes, the end of the war seemed near, but the outcome was not guaranteed. Not knowing what lay ahead and not ignoring the horrors that lay behind, a battered, bloody, and dispirited people - north and south - were called to give thanks.
There are many of our fellow Americans who still batter and bloody one another, and that is most dispiriting to both sides and the middle. We cannot look away from the carnage. But neither would it be honest if we failed to appreciate the beauty of the world God created, the love of family and friends, and the unique opportunity we have in America to "create a more perfect union" where all people are acknowledged as having been created equal.
Thanksgiving is not about a date or event in the past. Thanksgiving is about today.