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I love this holiday season! Thanksgiving is sweet! Christmas is delightful!

Thanksgiving is so uniquely American and so tied to our colonial Pilgrim past that it is like a benchmark for our nation's culture. Don't mess with my turkey, my giblet gravy, my cornbread dressing, my sweet iced tea or my cranberry sauce.

For those who tamper with Thanksgiving traditions, shame on you! Bah! Humbug! We had friends in Florida who ate Tacos for Thanksgiving. Other than that, they were normal people -- good folks, except I would never want to be at their dinner table for Thanksgiving.

Many years ago, my wife and I took our children to visit a friend's house in Texas. We planned to share Thanksgiving dinner together. Unfortunately, the thing I recall from that terrible day was that they had no cranberry sauce on the table. Not any in their pantry -- I asked. All the stores were closed, even Walmart. What a dismal day that proved to be! I concealed my disappointment but made myself a promise. I now carry (if we are on the road for the holiday) a personal emergency can of cranberry sauce. My family teases me, but it works! No more trauma due to missing my Thanksgiving cranberry sauce.

At some point in time, I began to create another tradition. As the family gathered for fun and games and while children played and food was finished and odors of deliciousness filled the house, we drifted in and out of the den to watch the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Without realizing it, I gathered all my shoes that needed polishing. I shined and buffed shoes with my kit of waxes and my horsehair brush. Sometimes my wife added her shoes to the pile.

I remember reading "The Light and the Glory," written by Peter Marshall and David Manuel. The subtitle is, "God's Plan for America." This was a historical narrative of our nation's formation. I paid attention to the struggle of the Pilgrims. Many of them died from disease or starvation as they settled in for their first long New England winter. Their bravery was incredible. They took risks for their family's future, for their Christian faith and for political freedom.

Help for the Pilgrim colonists came from an unexpected source. Years earlier, an Indian named Squanto had been captured, taken to England as a slave, educated and then returned to America as a free man. Squanto's own tribe was wiped out. But he spotted the colonists, saw them struggle to survive and cautiously approached them. In English, he asked them, "Do you have any beer?" Then he taught his new friends how to plant corn and obtain seafood from the bay.

The first Thanksgiving in America was when the colonists gave thanks to the Almighty God who had sent them help and enabled them to survive the harsh winter.

Seasons come and go. The meaning of holidays become obscure. But Thanksgiving Day is an American holiday. We specifically "give thanks" to someone, to a deity. It is not a generic "I'm thankful because" but a genuine gratitude voiced to the One who saved us, to Almighty God. The Lord answered prayers and orchestrated events so that America, a light to the nations, could have a chance to take root.

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Ron Wood is a writer and minister. Contact him at wood.stone.ron@gmail.com or visit www.touchedbygrace.org. The opinions expressed are those of the author.

Religion on 12/06/2017

Print Headline: I love Thanksgiving; it's an American holiday

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