You can focus on the negative this Thanksgiving -- the raging pandemic and the president’s refusal to acknowledge the president-elect come to mind -- or you can focus on the positive. Things certainly haven’t turned out as any of us had planned in 2020, but there are so many reasons to give thanks.

  • We are thankful for the freedom of religion. This is what drove the Pilgrims to leave England. They found it first in Holland, however, other concerns compelled them to strike out across the Atlantic.

  • We are thankful for the freedom of expression. The Pilgrims probably wouldn’t have phrased it that way, but they did want to be themselves. One reason they left Holland was to maintain their English identity, i.e. culture, dress and language -- all expressions of who and what they were.

  • We are thankful for the freedom to seek the American Dream. The Pilgrims also sought economic opportunity, which was proving to be unattainable in Holland. Their financial hardships were real.

  • We are thankful for the freedoms of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Happiness is essential for a healthy life, so don’t believe for a minute that the Pilgrims were a dour lot: Edward Winslow described the 1621 harvest festival as a scene of ale, food, joy and sporting contests. And they weren’t all dressed in black.

We hope you find joy in the food you eat and in those who sit down with you, be they immediate family at the physical table or friends and families “attending” via Zoom. We hope you find joy walking outdoors and in the quiet evening hours at home by noticing the little things we typically take for granted.

May you think of all the blessings that bring deep joy and thank God for them today, Thanksgiving Day and every day.

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