In everything give thanks—for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you…
1Thessalonians 5:18 NASB
It doesn’t happen very often.
So, when it does, we should pay attention.
If fact right now, in this week, across the United States, people are doing something that aligns with what the Bible tells us to do.
They are making plans to celebrate by giving thanks!
Of course, I am Canadian—and harvest in Canada is usually earlier in the season—so Canadians celebrate this in October… But this custom isn’t Canadian at all—it is a borrowing from our American friends. In fact, it didn’t become a Canadian festival until 1957.
Thanksgiving is regularly celebrated in the US in the last weekend of November to start off the holiday season, ending with Christmas and the New Year’s celebrations.
It began as a celebration in memory of the pilgrims’ first harvest, after settling in the new land.
So, this week, it is the regular custom for the US President to pardon a turkey—and it will be spared, allowed to live until it dies of old age. The pardoned turkey is freed from certain death, to live a life of luxury! This is one of the pleasant parts of the task of governing the largest economy in the history of the world.
So they can now afford to pardon a turkey.
Families will make the effort to gather to give thanks, because of the tradition going back to the days of the pilgrims from the Mayflower—and they will eat turkey, with cranberry on the side. This is usually accompanied by potatoes, carrots, squash, pumpkin pie, and, of all things, popcorn!
The most fun thing I ever heard about this is that Native Americans brought popcorn to the pilgrims, and that this was served up to the children as a part of the feast. The story goes that the children would put a corn kernel on a rock next to the fire, until the kernel would pop and fly off somewhere—and that each child would chase the kernel in a fit of joyful laughter. The account continues with the gathering of the popped corn; the children then had it served up in bowls and covered them with maple syrup—creating an early version of the very American treat that came to be known as “Cracker Jacks.”
Those families then gathered round and offered thanks to God that the harvest had been brought in—and that they were given enough, not only to live, but to laugh together.
This is a wonderful history, rooted in Scriptures like this one:
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called into one body—and be thankful! Colossians 3:15 NASB
Now the thanksgiving part is true! They did gather to thank God that the harvest came in.
They did share a meal with Native Americans.
All the rest is embellished fabrication—harmless, and even helpful, but completely untrue.
They did have corn, brought to them by Native Americans—but it wasn’t the kind that makes the popcorn we know about today. Popcorn as we know it was introduced to the world at the Chicago world’s fair.
They did give thanks! It was because the harvest did come in and they had gathered food enough for the winter, with enough for spring planting. They were spared…
So, we should do as they did—and take a pause, and thank God for blessings that have come our way.
It is pleasing to the Lord to do this.
And of course, it is fun to eat popcorn too!
© David Chotka, 2020