The origin of Thanksgiving as a national holiday is celebrated on various dates in the United States, Canada, Grenada, Saint Lucia, Liberia, and unofficially in countries like Brazil and the Philippines. It is also observed in the Dutch town of Leiden and the Australian territory of Norfolk Island. It began as a day of giving thanks for the blessings of the harvest and of the preceding year (similarly named harvest festival holidays occur throughout the world during autumn, including in Germany and Japan). Thanksgiving is celebrated on the second Monday of October in Canada and on the fourth Thursday of November in the United States and around the same part of the year in other places. Although Thanksgiving has historical roots in religious and cultural traditions, it has long been celebrated as a secular holiday as well.
Yet, what is Thanksgiving really all about for the majority of us. As we sit with our families and friends to celebrate and give thanks, we lift our glasses to the Creator and the many blessings, great and small, which we have welcomed into our lives. We remember to send a prayer to the universe for the blessings on all of our Father's children, wherever in the world they may be.
In the military, many of the troops are unable to go home to their families sometimes. So families who are near are encouraged to invite one, or a couple of the serving soldiers to partake of thanksgiving with their family.
A few Thanksgivings ago, I was at a military base which was close to the Canadian border. The weather was below freezing. Yet the military police on duty at gates and other outside posts, are bound by duty to stand in the freezing cold to check ID's and make sure that everything is in legal order as the world around them freezes. So too are uniformed troops, policemen and other civilian workers who do their jobs out in dire conditions while we sit comfortable and warm in our homes.
I always make a little gift for the ones that check my ID as I pass them by, just a token of appreciation for their service. Even a helping hand to one person counts as a personal blessing. Some of them are so young it pulls at your heartstring.
We must remember to give thanks for everyone, for their sacrifice year after year so that we can all be safe and protected. We must give thanks for the troops serving in dangerous places, for contractors and civilians alike, for the many veterans, some of whom have difficulty in adjusting after serving their country.
We give thanks for teachers, hospital staff, work staff everywhere, we give thanks for those who are not mentioned here, we are indeed giving thanks for everyone, everywhere.
In other parts of the world soup kitchens are opened and volunteers open their hearts to the homeless, needy and lost, welcoming them to a hot meal, and maybe a place to rest for the night if they have nowhere to go.
We give thanks for the churches, missions, food trucks, private homes and community centers who open their doors to everyone during the holiday season, always open to lend a hand to those who need it.
There is a rich and diverse history to the different places which observe a Thanksgiving every year. But for whatever reasons we give thanks, we all do it as one family united under the heavens, giving thanks for life and the ability to celebrate the coming of a brand-new year!
HAPPY THANKSGIVING TO EVERYONE.
Mother Combs' challenge
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