– By G. Miller Thompson –
Nearly 400 years ago, European colonists in Plymouth and Wampanoag Indians came together at one table to enjoy an “autumn feast” which many today describe as the first Thanksgiving in the colonies. When considering the mistreatment of the native population by many of the colonists, this first Thanksgiving paints a powerful picture of the blessings of life.
Thanksgiving did not become a national holiday until 150 years ago when President Abraham Lincoln established the national day of thanks following a major Union Army victory at Gettysburg. If you get the opportunity, I would recommend reading the Presidential Proclamation dated October 3, 1863 in which President Lincoln sets aside the last Thursday of November “as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.”
A century and a half has passed since Lincoln signed the Proclamation and Thanksgiving remains a popular holiday in the United States. It remains a day on which millions give thanks to God for the blessings He has so graciously bestowed upon us.
As Americans, we have been blessed with a horn of plenty. While there certainly are exceptions, most of us fall within the top percentage of wealth in the world. It has been said that if one has food in their refrigerator and a roof over their head, they are richer than 75% of the world. I have been blessed to travel to less fortunate areas of the world and seen much of the poverty in which so many people live.
We can learn a valuable lesson from these “poor” individuals, as we might call them. In the weathered mountain villages of Romania and the embattled seaside settlements of Samoa, I was taught that wealth takes many forms. In America, we tend to materialize wealth. It means new cars, a large house, a plump bank account, success, and the list goes on. Spending time with the Romanians and Samoans showed me that wealth from happiness is far more satisfying to the soul than wealth in objects.
I often hear people talk about how citizens of these impoverished places have so little. Such an observation is true to the extent of material possessions. However, having been there I would argue that these kind-hearted people have something most of us do not: contentment.
America has become a “microwave society.” When we see something we want, rarely do we stop until that item is in our hands. We have little patience for the troubles of life and expect solutions instantly. We lock ourselves inside of our own little world that we do not notice the man on the street corner with a cardboard sign. We hide ourselves in our own personal society, that too often we believe should revolve around us, that we fail to notice the single mother down the street whose children did not eat breakfast this morning and may not eat dinner this evening.
As Thanksgiving approaches, we should follow the example of the Romanians and give thanks for what we have. We should learn from the Samoans and value the family and friends we have been blessed with. When we are able, we should help those in need. After all, when our lives come to an end, the “horn of plenty” we have amassed will not travel with us.
May your Thanksgiving be filled with blessings and love.
The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The Edgefield Advertiser.
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