What comes to mind when you hear the word “Thanksgiving”? Turkeys? Family gathered around a table? Football? Pilgrims? Pie? Those were the kinds of thoughts that I had, up until recently. While these are all very good things, there is a deeper, sacred side to this holiday that I hope all members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints can enjoy.
As my husband, Ben, and I have studied the word “Thanksgiving” from a gospel centered perspective, we’ve had a couple of interesting epiphanies.
The first epiphany came from the literal definition of the word.
- the act of giving thanks; grateful acknowledgment of benefits or favors, especially to God.
- an expression of thanks, especially to God.
- a public celebration in acknowledgment of divine favor or kindness.
- a day set apart for giving thanks to God.
That definition was just taken from dictionary.com, a completely secular site. It struck me how this word is tied so closely with, not just any kind of gratitude, but gratitude to our Heavenly Father. It seems that this should be counted as a religious holiday. Have I been approaching it as such? Not really.
So, how can we make sure that the true meaning of Thanksgiving doesn’t get lost in the festivities? For me, the answer came in the form of another epiphany. As Ben shared Alma 45:1 with me, we made a new connection. Besides fasting for blessings, we can also fast for gratitude. The more we read, the more scriptural accounts we found of people fasting in thanksgiving. So, I decided that this year I will make the day before Thanksgiving a day of fasting and prayers of gratitude for all that I have been blessed with. This may not be appropriate for everyone, but I look forward to just focusing on saying thank you to the One who has given me everything from the air I breathe to my beautiful son.
Whether or not my fast becomes a yearly tradition for me, I am grateful that my perspective on Thanksgiving has been permanently changed.