In 1621, the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn harvest feast that is acknowledged today as one of the first Thanksgiving celebrations in the colonies. For more than two centuries, days of thanksgiving were celebrated by individual colonies and states. It wasn't until 1863, in the midst of the Civil War, that President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day to be held each November.
BARBARA WARD-FINNERAN For Marie, Kathi, Jay, & Patty... and all those who are missing someone in heaven today... especially those I know and love!
If you know someone who has lost a loved one - recently or years back. Tell them that you imagine that this day of Thanksgiving and celebration is also bittersweet. Tell them that you remember that they have lost a great love and that you are sorry that with the joys of the holidays comes pain. We've all known of clubs or cliques that we'd have liked to belong to long ago for an assortment of reasons. That feeling of wanting to belong is human nature. Somehow when you are part of "the crowd" you have arrived. You are relevant. In midlife do we still need to belong? Do we desire a certain affiliation? What about when membership is not desired? This post has been heavy on my heart, playing through my mind and begging to be written for weeks. In recent months four dear friends have said their goodbyes and buried a parent. These friends have joined the club. The "Dead Parent Club". You can't be in it, until you are in it. You might do your best to try and understand what it's like to lose someone so much a part of you that they literally gave you life. To sympathize. To understand. But you can't and you don't, until you do. Circumstances of the how and the why of your parent's departure from our world vary like the grains of sand on an endless beach. Yet once you have lost a parent. Or had another great loss that only one who has had similar loss can understand you are part of the club. You are bound together by the understanding that in a moment your life is never the same. There is no escape. You've acquired a lifetime membership to grief. You can't brace yourself for it - because even if you know it's coming. It's still a "sudden impact", and suddenly the life you knew before is over - forever. When someone you love dies, their journey to heaven brings such hell on earth. Their beautiful transition into eternal life - doesn't ease our human pain. We hurt for what our life is without them, not for not having the faith that they are with our Lord. It is only that which has given you the greatest joys in your life that can also give you the most tragic sorrows.I don't know that anyone fathoms the depth of love and abyss of grief until that hour of separation. Even when it's expected... the transition of the parent or person you love being gone from our earthly midst is unfathomable. In the first days of loss, your throat so tight at times that it feels like you gargled glass. Trying to get air into your lungs can feel like trying to breathe underwater. That void so big that it's more enormous then anything you've ever imagined. Memories run
down your cheeks... tears that can't wash away the pain - that speak the
words you can't find, because there aren't any to describe how much you
hurt. Initially grief is so much bigger then you are and with time you gain days where you are bigger then it.
Grief is a constant. Once you've danced with this devil you are stuck with it for life.It's a life sentence. Although it ebbs and flows. It builds itself around you. It doesn't matter how long it's been. The walls stand firm sometimes and at others they tumble down and the silence is broken by the sound of your tears. It can be noise that you can't get out of your head or beautiful background music in your mind when you allow yourself to think, feel, and remember. Skimming facebook this evening between cooking and baking I saw so many posts from members of "the club". Those that are missing loved ones. At the holidays we are all too aware of the absence. If it's a recent one, or years gone by, the fact is, the absence is the same.Does it really get better with time or do we just bury it deeper? You never really stop feeling the loss. Never get over it, but get to a place where you are no longer constantly and acutely aware of the heartache. Yet that grief monster can rear it's ugly head at the holidays in a way that makes it feel new and raw again. Sometimes causing you to lose the strength and ground you've gained. When you don't think you've got the strength to go on... the strength finds you. Sometimes it comes from within and sometime it comes from those we love. Often it comes from those who remember. Or from members of "the club". Those who aren't afraid to tell you that they know you are hurting behind the smile, despite the happy moments and love around you. If you have a person like that in your life. One who remembers. One who is brave enough to mention your pain and your loss --- you are blessed. Often they are few and far between. Often as the days carry us away from our loss the kindnesses of sympathy fade long before the pain eases. Life goes on for others. Yet your life is forever never the same. This is never as apparent as it is during the holidays. If this Thanksgiving finds you missing someone, take one moment at a time. Hold the memories in your heart and smile when they run down your cheeks. Take a moment and take in the view. The vision of bright blue sky over a sea of clouds. The sight of the moon pouring light into the darkness. Witness the love that abounds around you through a gentle touch, a warm smile, the sound of laughter... Notice those moments that take your breath away. Amazing - breathtaking moments and sites like that - always renews my faith
that our life here is so small and our someday life with the Lord, like
the sky, has no end - the beauty and vastness of it will forever
energize our souls. Just like the memory and love of those who we have lost is ever present in our hearts and flows through us keeping them forever alive. Love never dies. There are many I miss who have gone before me. Daddy I miss you most of all - I miss you today, like you were here yesterday. 18 years matters not... Marie, Kathi, Jay, & Patty... I remember - Know you are in my heart and prayers! There's a list of others too long to name who are members of "the club" --- time has gone by - I still remember! I LOVE YOU DEAR FRIENDS!
Abraham Lincoln established Thanksgiving as an annual holiday to be held on the last Thursday in November, where as earlier the presidents used to make an annual proclamation to specify the day when Thanksgiving was to be held.
The first Thanksgiving celebration lasted three days.
The first Thanksgiving was celebrated by the Pilgrims in 1621.
President George Washington issued the first national Thanksgiving Day Proclamation in the year 1789 and again in 1795.
The state of New York officially made Thanksgiving Day an annual custom in 1817.
The Wampanoag Indians were the people who taught the Pilgrims how to cultivate the land.
Californians are the largest consumers of turkey in the United States.
Turkeys are the only breed of poultry native to the Western Hemisphere.
Sarah Josepha Hale, an editor with a magazine, started a Thanksgiving campaign in 1827 and it was result of her efforts that in 1863 Thanksgiving was observed as a day for national thanksgiving and prayer.
The annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade tradition began in the 1920's.
In 1941, the U.S. Congress passed a resolution making Thanksgiving Day the fourth Thursday in November rather than the last.
Thanksgiving is celebrated in Canada on the second Monday in October.
The first Thanksgiving wad celebrated in Plymouth, Massachusetts.
The "drink" that the Puritans brought with them on the Mayflower was beer.
Oh, the power of two little words --- "Thank you". Utter those two words and they can make all the difference in the world. In some instances, forget to say them and you might never be forgiven. Reflect on the blessings in your life and it can change your perspective in mere moments. Being thankful should be automatic. Most of us were taught to say "thank you" from the time we were toddlers, yet often our interactions as adults tend to be thankless. Yes, we share polite "thank yous" all the time. But that's not enough. So often, we take for granted our relationships, our blessings and our freedoms. Caught up in what we don't have, or feel that we need, or just the chaos of life, rather then focusing on what is purely the essence of having a thankful heart - being grateful for all that you "do" have in your life.
In just days we will be celebrating Thanksgiving. An abundance of family, friends and food meld happily with the thankfulness that we have for love, life and the Lord. Being thankful has power. An attitude of gratitude breeds the positive and lends strength and kindness to any relationship. On Thanksgiving everyone is thankful. On this day we remember, reflect and relish in all our blessings. But, do you share it? Not just with a prayer around the table holding hands at dinner. Have you taken action? Do you give from your own abundance? Allotted something for those less fortunate then you. Have you told someone why you are thankful for them? Expressed gratitude to someone and specifically reminded them of why they are significant in your life. It's so easy to think that someone knows how you truly feel, or overlook the value in actually expressing your feelings. So easy to assume that they will always be around to tell. But the truth is, you can run out of time.
Thanksgiving is a compound word; "thanks" and "giving". This year, consider making thanking an action. Make giving an action too. Do something to help others whether it be with kindness or generosity. Take the time to fashion the kind words and thoughts in your heart and mind, then say it and or write it, but most importantly share it! Do whatever is in your power to make thanking an action that is purposefully done in little and big ways not just this this Thursday, but forever forward in the days ahead. Do it. Do it again & again! Then being thankful, generous and appreciative will become a natural and positive part of your daily interactions. It will make for so much more to be thankful for --- your heart will be filled and the love and gratitude will be contagious and endlessly grow. And better yet - you will reap what you sow - Now, that's something to be thankful for...!!!
"Give thanks to the Lord for His unfailing love." - Psalm 107:8