Several years ago I was in an airport with an hour or so to waste, and decided to go hunting for a shop that sold one of my favorite sweet treats – frozen yogurt.
But when I found a yogurt shop, my heart sank.
“Sorry – no yogurt today,” a matter-of-fact sign read.
Huh? No yogurt? Why? You’re a yogurt shop!
Alas, I didn’t get any yogurt that day. But I did get a memorable story that applies directly to our modern day celebration of Thanksgiving. Let me explain.
Thanksgiving became a national holiday in 1863, when President Lincoln proclaimed a day of “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.” Lincoln had it right, but modern-day America has drifted far, far from that first proclamation.
America still celebrates Thanksgiving, and it still gives thanks. But for the most part, it’s forgotten the “Whom” it’s thanking.
We’re the yogurt shop with no yogurt, trying to celebrate Thanksgiving without give “thanks” to God. (And we’re not about to reference those Christian Pilgrims.)
This perhaps is best seen when searching for children’s books that recount the story of the Pilgrims – a group of men, women and children who crossed the Atlantic to find religious freedom. Sadly, few children’s books acknowledge either the Pilgrims’ faith or their purpose in crossing the sea. My kids have one book on their bookshelf that says the Pilgrims wanted to hold a celebration feast because they “felt so happy about their good fortune.” The Pilgrims, essentially feeling lucky? I doubt that’s how the Pilgrims – who believed God guided their every step – truly felt.
I’m always looking for children’s products that teach the true story of Thanksgiving, but the list is fairly short. I spent a few minutes at a major chain bookstore the other day, looking for books (aimed at young children ages 4-8) that give more than a one-sentence reference to the Christian part of the story. In the end, I found two.