This is a very solemn occasion for me.  If you are wearing a Pilgrim costume right now you need to do two things.  Number one, close your blinds.  Number two, and this is the most important one, adjust your Pilgrim hat to half-mast.  It was 52 years ago this week that I portrayed Myles Standish* in our elementary school play.  (This was not my first experience in the theater. During my elementary school days was I was the consummate actor, having also portrayed Daniel Boone, Stephen Foster, Scrooge, and in a somewhat confused and delusional state, Eliza Dolittle.)  Word of my performance as Myles Standish spread all over town.  Parents wrote letters, teachers made phone calls, newspaper editors wrote editorials, but we went ahead with the second night anyway. *(Historic footnote: There were actually two Pilgrims at Plymouth Colony with similar names.  The other one was Myles Standoffish.  We know little about him because he pretty much kept to himself.)

You will remember from your history books that Myles Standish was hired by the Pilgrims as a military advisor in 1621.  His first advice was, "Hortense, the barrel end points toward the Indians." His second piece of advice was, "Say, why don't we share a scrumptious meal with these Indians and then play them in a game of football!" It eventually evolved into the Cowboys vs. Redskins. Of course this was not the First Thanksgiving as we know it.  That came on Jul;y 8, 1630, in the first Thanksgiving celebration of the Massachusetts Bay Colony.  It was a hearty meal.  On July 9, busy Pilgrim researchers began work on a remedy for acid indigestion.

The first Thanksgiving of the United States of America was observed by George Washington and his men in November of 1777 just before spending the winter at Valley Forge. It was here where he asked his famous question, "Why do we have to serve cranberry sauce?" They were celebrating the American victory at Saratoga, as in the phrase, "Is saratoga in the house?" "No, but if we're going to have a fraternity party I think we can make one out of a bed sheet."

It is time to celebrate the holiday we call Thanksgiving.  Like Myles Standish, the Pilgrims, and George Washington, we have much for which to be thankful, except for cranberry sauce.  I am thankful I was raised in a Christian home by parents who loved me very much.  I am thankful for my family and their health.  I am thankful for the churches I have served and the one I am serving now. I am thankful for the many friends I have in this place.  I am thankful I live in a free country, made possible by the sacrifices of so many who are gone and those currently serving. 

We really don't need a reminder to observe Thanksgiving, but it seems we do need a reminder to live lives of thanksgiving and speak words of thanks.  What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving?  Do you speak words of thanks to those who need them?  Are you using more words of thanks this year than you did last year? Sometimes our words not only come back to bite us, they eat on us.  This Thanksgiving replace those hurtful words with words of encouragement and thanks.  Enjoy your feast of turkey, ham, and maybe even cranberry sauce . . . and if you use thankful words you won't have to worry about eating crow.  

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