Each reader of this newspaper has their own unique Thanksgiving memories.
Mixed in the diverse histories include traditions such as parades and football on television, family football games with cousins, feasts gone right and feasts gone wrong, long prayers before meals, meetings at houses that are no longer standing or are no longer in the family.
Some recall special ones, and some recall sad ones as they remember Thanksgiving times with loved ones absent, and it never being the same again. Some even have had lonely Thanksgiving memories.
Our traditions and memories bring back so many different and colorful emotions. Each year, we recall our past as we create new memories that someday will become our rich memories. This year, will you join me in trying to ensure we at least get right the reason why there is such a holiday?
In our modern world in which the louder minority is constantly battling to eradicate Christianity from the landscape, holidays are increasingly under attack.
The newest attack on Thanksgiving is claiming it’s racist to celebrate it. The people who fabricate such things are known as history revisionists, but in my humble opinion, they should be more clearly identified as history fictionists.
One of the attacks comes in the form of bringing up the fact that many years before the Pilgrims celebrated Thanksgiving with the Native Americans for God’s wonderful mercy and abundant providence, there was another group in what would become known as Florida, celebrating a Thanksgiving feast with Native Americans for the exact same reasons.
It’s true. On Sept. 8, 1565, Spanish Admiral Don Pedro Menéndez de Avilés waded ashore and paid respects to Jesus Christ. Eight-hundred passengers and an unknown number of Timucuan natives watched as priest Francisco Lopez conducted a worship service. The Timucuans were invited to join the new settlers in a communal meal, thanking God for His mercy and providence. This new settlement would be named St. Augustine.
Now, this happened 56 years before the typically recited “first Thanksgiving.” Sure, the Pilgrims didn’t know about the other Thanksgiving, but still, the first one in North America, obviously, was the one in St. Augustine.
Both were celebrations with new settlers and Native Americans. Both were all about thanking the God of the Bible for His mercy and provisions. Both were void of racism and full of a spirit of thankfulness.
Thanksgiving kicks off what is typically referred to as “the holiday season.” For many of us, it’s our favorite time of the year. Mostly, this is due to our choice to dwell on the good memories of holidays past, rather than on dwelling on negative things.
Still, there are those of us who struggle with the holiday season. Some of us have dark and sad memories of holidays past. Some of us struggle not because of bad histories of holidays past but because we know things will never be like they once were. As life has happened, we’ve come to face the reality that we can never experience those grand holiday times like we once did. Why not be thankful for the blessings of such great memories we relish?
For some, it’s simply a reality we’ll likely spend the holidays with heavy emotions of loneliness or regrets. We anticipate an emphasized sadness as we watch other people enjoying themselves as we live with financial struggles, family dysfunctions or extreme loneliness in our isolated lives.
It doesn’t have to be this way. God has been merciful and provident. Dwell on those things. Be thankful and dwell on creating good new memories for others.
See 1 Timothy 4:4-5.
Pastor Jeff Adams is a professional Christian counselor who travels the world teaching but serves our community. His column appears weekly. He can be reached by email at email@example.com.