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Celebrating all the blessings of Thanksgiving

What are some of your childhood reflections of Thanksgiving? Not a Thanksgiving Day passes that I do not reflect upon the words, actions and decorations that were present in my home in Underwood. I do believe it was my mother’s favorite celebration. She has been, and is still to this day at age 93, thankful for the many blessings that have been bestowed upon her.

Some of you may recall that in an earlier column I had mentioned one of my favorite memories of my mom is that of her taking five minutes from her busy day to read from her white Bible at her bedside. She has always been keenly aware what a privilege we have been given to live in the land of opportunity, beauty and abundance. She many times gave thanks for the message that Billy Graham brought to our home via the television, thus planting in her young son’s minds that our religious heritage and freedom to worship is something for which to be most thankful.

She took the time to care about friends across town, down the street and out in the country. At Thanksgiving time, we said a thank you for these folks who made our lives more fulfilled.

She took the time to be thankful for the chance at a fine education that has served her well. So we gave thanks for the many schools and higher institutions of learning.

She taught us to be thankful for the fertile fields swathed in golden robes of grain, for hillsides beset with herds of lowing cattle, and the cucumbers that grew in our east garden.

She gave thanks to God for the ability to work, minds that are creative, minds to plan and hearts to appreciate the many, many blessings that appear every day in our home.

Each fall, in our dining room, she would hang up a pilgrim that I had made in fourth grade out of a clothes hanger that was bent into a round face shape. Over this shape was placed a tan ladies nylon and then colored construction paper was used to fashion it into a pilgrim – complete with white collar, black hat with a gold buckle and a fine expression.

On our refrigerator hung this excerpt from a proclamation made by President John F. Kennedy on Thanksgiving 1961. His words still remind us where the focus of Thanksgiving Day needs to be:

“I urge all citizens to make this Thanksgiving not merely a holiday from their labors, but rather a day of contemplation. I ask the head of each family to recount to his children the story of the first New England thanksgiving, thus to impress upon future generations the heritage of this nation born in toil, in danger, in purpose, and in the conviction that right and justice and freedom can through man’s efforts persevere and come to fruition with the blessing of God. Let us observe this day with reverence and with prayer that will rekindle in us the will and show us the way not only to preserve our blessings, but also to extend them to the four corners of the earth.”