Today is THANKSGIVING DAY, our uniquely American national foundational festival, dressed up as an autumnal harvest festival. As everyone knows, our modern celebration of Thanksgiving can be traced back to the early 17th-century English Pilgrims, who colonized what is now New England. Having survived (with Native American assistance) the rigors of wilderness life, 53 Pilgrims and 90 Native American allies celebrated a successful harvest with a 3-day festival and shared fellowship meals in 1621. Much later, in 1789, recently inaugurated President George Washington proclaimed the first national Thanksgiving Day in the U.S., calling on all citizens to place their faith in "the providence of Almighty God." This wonderful American tradition has continued down to the present in this quintessentially American holiday, now celebrated annually on this 4th Thursday in November.
The American Thanksgiving holiday is also very much about family, which is why more people travel this week than any other in the entire year. I too am away this week, spending the holiday with my family in California. As individuals and families, as religious communities and congregations, and as citizens of this exceptional nation, we all have much to be thankful for, in spite of the many real stresses that seem to be quite literally pulling us apart. However and wherever we are celebrating this special holiday, this day unites us all in one united national community.
Father all-powerful, your gifts of love are countless and your goodness infinite; as we come before you on Thanksgiving Day with gratitude for your kindness, open our hearts to have concern for every man, woman, and child, so that we may share your gifts in loving service. [Collect, Votive Mass for Thanksgiving Day]
Happy Thanksgiving to All!