One of the most notable aspects of Thanksgiving is the food, and another notable aspect is family. I happened to spend this year’s Thanksgiving with part of a family I happen to know well, and who I visited last year for Thanksgiving as well . The group was small enough and the table just loud enough that we packed the customary large amount of food as well as half a dozen people around the table. There is always an interesting dynamic when people sit around a table. My throat has been a bit sore today, in large part because of the way I have been feeling, as my nosebleeds carried over into this morning , and that can be rough on the throat sometimes, especially when nosebleeding is combined with post-nasal drip. Anyway, I’m sure that no one wants to hear about my nose, or about the fact that I ate well.
Nevertheless, eating is a major aspect of Thanksgiving. I myself enjoy turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, sweet potatoes, salad, rolls, green bean casserole, and plenty of pumpkin pie. No doubt I consider myself having done well not stuffing myself to oblivion, but not everyone would agree that my appetites are sufficiently modest or well enough restrained. Indeed, it was said of our dinner that we were circling the table like raptors, which is a fit image for the sort of people we are as Americans eating large amounts of food. I feel glad that so many of my friends go out of their way, and not only this time of year, to express what they are grateful for, especially friends and the many blessings in life that we have. Yet I know that I could always do better in feeling and expressing gratitude for the blessings of my own life, and spend less time bemoaning those blessings that I do not have.
I have recounted the story of Thanksgiving enough  that I do not feel it necessary to go into detail here. That said, there are some elements of Thanksgiving that I think we need to remember. When my Pilgrim ancestors came to this country, they were refugees on unfamiliar shores seeking safety and a better life with better freedoms than they had known after making themselves unwelcome in another nation. Perhaps I can identify a little too closely with their experiences myself, but I too have celebrated safety and freedom in unfamiliar lands. The Pilgrims, of course, celebrated a form of a biblical Holy Day in enjoying the bounty of their new home , and were probably glad to find enough food to survive despite their late arrival. Obviously, our own Thanksgiving can seem a little bit less urgent in contrast, since we are so far removed from starvation and exile (most of us anyway), that we do not always realize how good we have it.
Yet such efforts as we make to show gratitude for what we have ought to be appreciated, even if they are flawed and not nearly often enough. Why beat ourselves up because we are not as grateful as we ought to be? Gratitude is sometimes an action that must be practiced long before it is felt, but as it is an action that merits practice and also is of immense social benefit, it is a habit that should be urgently acquired. After all, if one is enjoying good food with good friends and physical (or spiritual) family, there is something to be grateful for. Let us hope that we can all find, and remember, a lot to be thankful for, in our friendships and what God has given.
 See, for example: