There was a little old lady who was very spiritual who would step out on her porch every day, raise her arms to the sky and yell “Praise the Lord.” One day, an atheist bought the house next door to her, and he became very irritated with the spiritual lady. So after a month or so of her yelling, “Praise the Lord” from her porch, he went outside on his porch and yelled back, “There is no Lord.” Yet, the little old lady continued.
One cold, winery day, when the little old lady couldn’t get to the store, she went out on her porch, raised her hands up to the sky and said, “Help me Lord, I have no more money, it’s cold, and I have no more food.” The next morning, she went outside, and there were three bags of food on the porch, enough to last her a week. “Praise the Lord,! ” she yelled.
The Atheist stepped out from the bushes and said, “There is no Lord ha ha ha, I bought those groceries!” The little old lady raised her arms to the sky and said, “Praise the Lord, you sent me groceries and you made the Devil pay for them!”
Dear friends! We gather here in this Church this evening and tomorrow in our homes, with relatives and friends, to give thanks for the many blessings in our lives — each one of them a sign of God’s loving care and faithful goodness.
I did a little Googling and found that the menu for that first Thanksgiving had some surprises. It was not necessarily turkey and pumpkin pie. Historians think they probably ate fowl and venison – or deer. The pilgrims didn’t have forks, but used spoons. More likely, they ate with their hands. And the food was probably a lot more fatty than we are used to. Cholesterol was unheard of. They were more worried about plague and the pox. They didn’t have much sugar, so sweets and deserts were probably not on the menu. So, you can forget the pumpkin pie.
Whatever it may have involved, that meal left us with an enduring tradition: a gathering around a table, giving thanks for surviving in an uncertain and difficult new place.
The Pilgrims were people who lived their lives in wonder and hope, grateful for everything: the hard winds and deep snows…the frightening evenings and hopeful mornings …the long journey that had taken them to a new place. They knew how to express gratitude.
Gratitude doesn’t always come easily. We all know that generosity – the giving of a gift – means thinking more about others than about yourself. It represents an act of love. But so does being thankful. To give thanks is to extend yourself. It is to remember where the gift came from.
Our heavenly Mother Mary acknowledges that gift and praised God: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior for he has looked upon his lowly servant.” There is love in that song of praise. A love for the gift – and for the one who gave it. Maybe that is what enabled the pilgrims to thrive and prosper: a humble appreciation for whatever God gave them.
I am not sure how many Subways and McDonald’s will be open 24 hours on Thanksgiving Day. For a lot of Americans, that will be the place for feasting. That will be their holiday. It won’t involve turkey and pumpkin pie. It will be a hamburger and a milkshake.
But Thanksgiving isn’t about giving thanks for having a lot. It’s about giving thanks for just having. For being. For knowing that whatever we have, whether it is served on a china plate or any other plate, it is all a gift.
And all of us, no matter where we find ourselves praying, will be bound together by one simple word: grace. The grace of gratitude. The grace of thanking God for whatever gift He gives. And in the giving, and in the receiving, and in the thanking, there is something that transcends time and place.
There is love. Love for what we have, and love for what we have been given. And love for the God who gives it. Celebrate the Love wherever you may be with gratitude thanking God from the bottom of your hearts. Happy Thanksgiving!