http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/363044

Op-Ed: Being thankful that Thanksgiving is more than just a word

Posted Nov 29, 2013 by Karen Graham
Thanksgiving in America hasn't always been a day of over-eating, football and shopping, as it is today. It's a shame that it has become so consumer-driven like it has, and we have no one to blame but ourselves. But Thanksgiving is more than just a word.
The author is thankful for her family  especially her grandchildren. Photo is of Karen Graham with C...
The author is thankful for her family, especially her grandchildren. Photo is of Karen Graham with Catheryne and little Madison.
As an older American, I would not have enough time or paper to sit down and list the many things I am thankful for, and it would be ludicrous on my part to even try. But every night before I go to sleep, and every morning when I wake up, I give thanks to God for the blessings he has bestowed on me and my family.
But the true meaning of Thanksgiving is not lost on me. From an early age, I can remember my family taking turns around the table, our eyes on the platter holding the roast turkey, each of us, regardless of our age, telling others what we were particularly thankful for. It was a tradition I continued with my family, and one carried on by my daughter's family today.
As a county that has always given God his rightful place in our founding, it is natural that we should thank Him for our bounty and good fortune. And early on in our history, God did have a place at the Thanksgiving table. But that space has been replaced by excess-consumerism, football and "Black Friday" sales. The word "Thanks" has all but disappeared from the phrase, "Happy Thanksgiving."
 The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth  (1914) By Jennie A. Brownscombe
"The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth" (1914) By Jennie A. Brownscombe
Jennie Augusta Brownscombe (1850–1936)
America, like Canada owe the origins of our Thanksgiving celebrations to historical events. In my home state of Virginia, we look back to the first Thanksgiving celebrated by the settlers of Jamestown, the first English settlement in what is now the Commonwealth of Virginia in 1610. American school children are taught the first Thanksgiving was held in 1621 at Plymouth Plantation, again as a time of giving thanks to God for his deliverance in a new land.
Canadians have a similar story that can be traced back to 1578, and the voyage of Martin Frobisher, sailing from England in search of the Northwest Passage. This third voyage was plagued with misfortune, including the loss of one of his 15 ships. But after bringing his people together again, communion was given as, "The celebration of divine mystery was the first sign, scale, and confirmation of Christ's name, death and passion ever known in all these quarters."
Shopping for pumpkins at Thanksgiving in Ottawa s Byward Market.
Shopping for pumpkins at Thanksgiving in Ottawa's Byward Market.
Lars Plougmann (CC BY-SA 2.0)
As I sit here writing this story, I can look around me and see many "things" to be thankful for, and being that they are all material in nature, it seems crass. But looking beyond them, I also realize how lucky, even thankful I am that I live in this country. No, it's not perfect, not by a long-shot. But despite its failings, there is much we as a nation can be thankful for.
I look at our system of government, one where we can disagree publicly over legislation, political parties or prevailing opinions, and I am thankful. I thank God for being able to vote, a privilege afforded me by living in a Democracy. And I am thankful that i can go to the church of my choosing to lay down my prayers before the creator.
On a more personal level, I am thankful that I was allowed the privilege of serving in my country's military, and as a veteran, I am grateful that we have a medical system in place that takes care of our health care needs. There is so much the citizens of this great nation should be thankful for, if only they would take the time.