Over the river and through the wood
Holidays usually provide an opportunity to glance in the rear-view mirror. It's true in two senses, one metaphorical, and the other actual. We humans, especially those of us in the boomer cohort and older, love to reflect and remember notable celebrations from kinder and simpler times. Then, too, there's the look back in the gnarled traffic of one of the ten most dreaded travel days of the year while humming the refrain of the childhood Thanksgiving melody, Over the River and Through the Wood. Since one of my two readers is a gen x'er and may not be familiar with the old song I've included a clip for a nice Thanksgiving sing-a-long. You can click here for some old time fun.
My other reader, older friend Curt Bradford, and I talked about cherished traditions over a cup at the old coffee shop Starbucks on Monday. Neither of us rode a horse drawn buggy through the snowy woods to grandma's house for Thanksgiving in our childhood. However, we both know the song Over the River and Through the Wood because we sang it at school back in the late fifties and early sixties and could hum a few bars and sing the first stanza from memory. We reminisced about grandma's chocolate pie, home-made cornbread turkey dressing, live Christmas trees, cherished family traditions, along with the sights and sounds of holidays past. Just imagine the OBC (you'll have to ask him what it means) and me reflecting over our Holiday Blend as the new world jetted past us in that busy meeting place.
Snap back to reality. This year 46.9 million Americans will face long lines and tighter security traveling during the Thanksgiving break, Wednesday through Sunday. The vast majority, perhaps 42 million will be on US highways. Another 3.6 million will be working through the 40,609 full-time TSA screeners at airports around the country. The lowest gasoline prices since 2008 will literally fuel the trip to grandma's house for this year's road travelers. AAA advises that pies aren't forbidden in airline travel, but that cranberry sauce is subject to the three ounce rule and Christmas packages shouldn't be wrapped. Scrutiny of pies and packages should slow down the security process.
It's all to say that going to grandma's house this year will be more complex than a horse drawn sleigh gliding through the wood. Still, many of the traditions of our national holiday will be observed. For example, in 2014 Americans spent $2.9 million and ate 51 million turkeys in their Thanksgiving Day feasts. Millions of Americans will attend worship services or hold special moments of family thanksgiving devotion when they are gathered at the table. it is believed that more families will say grace at the Thursday meal than at any other time during the year. Also, the Salvation Army and many churches and benevolent organizations will serve a record number of meals to the homeless and poor populations around the nation. The spirit of giving thanks to God typically activates our compassion and care for others.
Millions of Americans, including me, will pause for reflection and counting blessings during the long weekend. It's a spiritual discipline that should mark every moment of life, this thing of being thankful, and not just a specified day or week of the year. At the same time, having a day to enumerate His provision, to review the good and bad moments of life, and to give thanks for them all, is a good thing. Knowing the spiritual diversity of our population and the secular bent of the times make Thanksgiving even more precious. Having experienced His goodness and even a few of life's most trying disappointments lends a more personal angle on even the idea of gratitude.
It's not Over the River and Through the Wood any more. But, it is a time for personal evaluation and genuine gratitude. With the Apostle Paul I'm praying that we can---
Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
1 Thessalonians 5:18, ESV
Safe travels and a blessed Thanksgiving.