Thanksgiving. What's the first word that comes to mind when you hear that word? I must admit that the first thing I think of is Macy's....as in the big Turkey Day parade. I know....I know...the correct answer from a spiritual perspective should be something like giving thanks or helping others or spending time with family. But let's be honest. Our culture has turned Thanksgiving into a day when we stuff our faces, watch more football than our poor pea brains could possibly handle, put up with Aunt Matilda's "famous" sweet potato casserole (that really makes your mouth go numb because of some spice she uses WAY TOO MUCH of. And....if we think about it...we offer up a simplistic, generic prayer to the god of our choice, or to Mother Earth, for his/her provision...but not make it too heartfelt lest someone feel uncomfortable or think we are some kind of religious fanatics.
You catch my drift. Right?
I hope so. Because here's the reason I think of Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. When I was a child (particularly first and second grade, I suppose), our teachers at school asked us to draw pictures of pilgrims and turkeys and falling autumn leaves. My pictures were never anything to brag about (which is weird now because I sketch fairly well, if I do say so myself...and yes...I am tooting my own horn, thank you very much) and were never a part of the group that got hung up on the wall or shown to other classes. So I would go home with my bruised little ego and wait for what every other child of the 1960s waited for...a humongously (not a word, by the way...according to my spell check) long parade on television that ushered in Thanksgiving for all American families who would later celebrate according to their family tradition(s). I couldn't wait for the Kilgore Rangerettes (Texas's answer to the Rockettes). I was amazed...and extremely thankful....for how well they danced, how high they kicked and that they were from the South...just like me. I would begin to thank God for the Rangerettes because I knew it wouldn't be long until the great man himself and his substantial entourage, would make their grand entrance, ushering in the holiday season. You know who I mean....SANTA. Saint Nicholas, Kris Kringle, Pere Noel. When that happened, I knew it was officially Thanksgiving (not that Santa has anything to do with Thanksgiving, but I was a kid, all right?) and excitement suddenly filled the air (at least my air).
I would spend the rest of the day thinking about the parade as our entire family (all the local members anyway) sojourned to our grandparent's house for a feast, which, by the way, was never turkey. It was roast beef and my Mamaw's amazing Southern Fried Chicken and every other known food of the southern world.
I have to mention what happened at this gathering the year I was in the second grade. My cousins and I were running through the house, which we'd been told NOT to do about a hundred times. I tripped over an footstool and landed face first into the corner of an old wooden desk and got a big old shiner. It was blue and purple and black and green and then finally that funky yellow color that shouldn't be a color at all. I was not thankful for that black eye or the footstool and especially not the desk. Today I realize I should have been thankful I didn't poke my eye out, except that goes with another story having to do with a toy gun and a boy named Ralphie, so I"ll defer that one to him.
Stay with me people, there is a point to all this. Whatever we are reminded of when thinking of Thanksgiving, it's all a part of who we are. Growing up with fond memories of a televised parade to this day reminds me to be grateful and thankful to the One who is the great provider. I don't really care if people think I'm a fanatic when I say this: THANKSGIVING IS ABOUT THANKS...Not football (even though it's fun to gather around the tube and be mesmerized hour after hour), not gossiping, not spending countless hours cooking...It's about thanks.
HAPPY THANKSGIVING EVERYONE!
And by all means.....EAT. Weight Watchers will still be there when you're done!