The True Meaning of Thanksgiving

Among all the greatness that is November, the highlight of the month is the American tradition of Thanksgiving. Everyone knows the origin of this annual celebration dates to the Pilgrims staging a feast to commemorate their first successful harvest in the New World; but few know that it was not until 1863 and the darkest days of the American Civil War when President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national day of “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father” be celebrated on the last Thursday of November. So, with that bit of history, let’s have a look into what Thanksgiving means to today’s generations of Texas families that enjoy the outdoors.

First and foremost – Thanksgiving is a family holiday. Family and friends gather to celebrate the bounty and blessings The Almighty has bestowed. We feast. We bond with children and grandchildren during days on the water, in duck blinds and deer stands. We watch football games. We celebrate the joy and blessings of living in the greatest nation the world has ever known!

As a youngster I recall vividly the anxious build-up to the great day. Riding the school bus the final half-day of school, clutching a prized piece of grade-school art that along with my sibling’s creations would decorate our home. Bursting through the kitchen door, proud to show it off, greeted by the delicious aroma of fresh-baked bread, pumpkin, and apple pies. My mother was an incredible homemaker.

We’d be up before dawn because Thanksgiving was a hunting day, even when too young to carry a shotgun. Whether we’d hit the marsh for ducks or tromp endless uplands for pheasants didn’t matter. It was a family affair of uncles, cousins, and friends, and it was always grand.

Thanksgiving dinner was a feast to behold, and remarkably, looking back, the memory of great parenting and love shared around the table has remained more vividly than any of the meals.

My own cherished memories of Thanksgivings past brings me to ponder whether we as parents and grandparents are instilling the same enduring love of Our Creator and the true meaning of the blessings we enjoy and celebrate.

Are we providing the same quality of leadership in love of country and fellow man? Are we taking time to pass on the great traditions of the outdoor lifestyle? Are we teaching youngsters the importance of stewardship and conservation? Are we grooming them sufficiently to become the next “great” generation?

So I offer a challenge. A challenge to parents and grandparents and mentors of every sort. I challenge you to make this the best Thanksgiving ever for your children and grandchildren, for all your extended family and friends, to the kid in the neighborhood living in less-than-fortunate circumstances.

Invite them all to Thanksgiving dinner. Take them fishing and hunting. Get out in the yard and throw the football. Invite them in for a ball game on TV and holiday leftovers. Pray with them and for them, show them love and the true meaning of Thanksgiving.