Thanksgiving Day is the time when we pause to reflect on the blessings which we have received and to rejoice by feasting and sharing in the fellowship of family and friends.
We give thanks for the simple blessing of being alive and we give thanks for the lives of those who are no longer with us. We are grateful for the roof over our heads, for the food on our table, for the clothing on our backs.
We celebrate our citizenship in a nation fashioned on the principle “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness,” as set out in the Declaration of Independence.
We are grateful that as African Americans we have come from those early times when we were labeled less than human to the day when a black man has been elected twice in a row as our President. We rejoice in the promise of that historic step in the evolution of our American experiment.
At the same time we must acknowledge that many of our fellow Americans are having a tough time and that millions of America’s children are living in poverty.
Giving thanks, then, is only part of the significance of Thanksgiving Day. It is an occasion that also calls us to do our part, each of us, to translate our gratitude into meaningful action to help those who are less fortunate than us. This does not mean simply sharing a turkey and trimmings. It means accepting the fact that giving thanks rings hollow when there are many who cannot do so without consistently seeking to change the condition of the less fortunate.
It also means we must urge our leaders to work for a better world, one in which wars and rumors of war no longer determine the course of human endeavor.
Being grateful for what we have and for who we are must be complemented by a determination to use what we have in the service of others. Then shall we really have reason to give thanks.