Thursday, November 24, 2011

Come ye thankful people, come ...

Maybe it would be best just to eat turkey and shut up, but I have issues with Thanksgiving. The holiday, aka the gateway to Black Friday, that is, not the practice in general. So I got up a little cranky this morning --- sorry.

Thanksgiving back in the day was splattered with happy-Pilgrim-happy-Indian imagery --- everyone brings a 1621-style covered dish and sits down to eat companionably around the campfire, one big happy multi-cultural family.

As it turned out, that was a premise with a factual base about as firm as the one under Santa Claus. Pilgrims were a narrow and intolerant lot, much like we are today only moreso. And native Americans certainly have no reason to be thankful today for much of anything delivered by EuroAmerican intruders --- disease, death, intolerance and destruction. We got everything else out of the deal, including the corn.

It used to be easier, in Iowa, to appreciate the harvest festival origins of the holiday. Most of us do our harvesting these days in the aisles at Hy-Vee, however; and it's a challenge, unless you happen to own  acres of prime cropland, to be grateful for $7 corn when the prices of what you buy there are considered. Forty percent of the crop will go to fuel vehicles rather than people, after all.


The Rev. Linda's sermon theme at this year's community Thanksgiving service Tuesday night was "Thanksliving." Get it? Living thankfully. Lots of food for thought there.

The Rev Allen, in charge of pre-offering motivation, turned the two parts of the word "Thanksgiving" in a slightly different, although related, direction --- giving thankfully. Food for thought there, too. The proceeds went to the Interchurch Council's crisis center and food bank.

Neither theme had much to do with the conventional Thanksgiving thought --- that it's mostly about saying "thanks" to the big guy for what we've got, perhaps with a notion in the back of our heads that we'll get more if we do so. And by implication, that we need do this only once a year when gathered around a table full of more food than any assembled group possibly could eat.

Even the postcard here, recycled from last year and sent originally to my grandmother during 1915, seems to be preaching a little: "Who brings sunshine into the life of thers has sunshine in his own."


I've been working this week on the script for an Advent service Sunday that will include a bidding prayer spoken seasonally every year since 1918 at King's College, Cambridge. That speaks, too, to what "Thanksgiving" probably should be all about: 

"And because this of all things would rejoice His heart, let us at this time remember in His name the poor and the helpless, the cold, the hungry and the oppressed; the sick in body and in mind and them that mourn; the lonely and the unloved; the aged and the little children ...."

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