Dean’s Letter: Thanksgiving Reflection

Hello St. Paul’s,

Happy Thanksgiving! Thanksgiving Day is recognized in the Book of Common Prayer as a major holy day, along with July 4. It offers us an opportunity to be focused in our gratitude to God for all the blessings we enjoy, and so this morning we celebrated the Eucharist, a liturgy whose purpose and meaning is thanksgiving. I had no experience of Thanksgiving until I came to the USA in 1985, and it still seems strange to me that we have a major, two-day holiday while for my family in the UK it is just another Thursday and Friday.

The holiday is an interesting mix of the spiritual and the material. It offers an opportunity for reconnection and reconciliation with family members, and a reminder of the freedoms that we enjoy in this country.  On Thanksgiving Day, families that never otherwise say Grace will go around the festive table naming what they are grateful for (sometimes, but not always, directing their gratitude to God), before tucking in to an enormous feast. And later on Thanksgiving Day, some will go to spend the night standing in line so that they can score a Black Friday deal. I can imagine few things more unpleasant!

Others will have to work on Thanksgiving Day and all of the weekend, with those in the restaurant and retail trades enduring all kinds of bad behavior from customers indulging in “extreme consumerism”. First responders will be taken away from their loved ones to deal with emergencies arising from bad decisions or culinary disasters. Not everyone gets to relax and enjoy the holiday, and I give thanks for those who work while others rest.

I have happily adopted the “Buy Nothing Day” philosophy for the day after Thanksgiving, and I encourage you to do likewise. Take a day to spend quiet time with those you love. Write your Christmas cards (this is my annual discipline). Plan your charitable giving for the season and the coming year (other than your cathedral pledge, which I hope you will already have submitted). Give your stomach a rest. Spend time outdoors, and continue to give thanks to God for the beauty of this region and the privilege of having time off. And have a blessed Thanksgiving.

The Collect for Thanksgiving Day (BCP p. 246)

Almighty and gracious Father, we give you thanks for the
fruits of the earth in their season and for the labors of those
who harvest them. Make us, we pray, faithful stewards of
your great bounty, for the provision of our necessities and
the relief of all who are in need, to the glory of your Name;
through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with
you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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2 thoughts on “Dean’s Letter: Thanksgiving Reflection”

  1. Along with gratitude for family, friends, and health, I’m thankful for our Cathedral community (as well as the Buy Nothing Day reminder!)

  2. I truly appreciate your recognition of those who have to work during the holiday (really any holiday). Thinking of those who have to be at work is one of the first things I think of every time we a holiday.


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