By Jacob Toman
For some, Thanksgiving is a time of feast and family; for others, it’s a time of fellowship and congeniality with friends. While there are numerous traditions, myths, and legends surrounding the food, music, celebration, and history of an annual day of thanks, the common thread of thankfulness often prompts us to ask questions of ourselves and others during this season, questions like “what are you thankful for?” or “What are you grateful of?” Naturally, the answers are as varied as all of us who answer them: our material possessions, the beauty of the world around us, an act of kindness that someone else has done for us (the website Thnx4.org is a great place to see the things people talk about what they are thankful for; it’s essentially a public, online journal of thankfulness).
The focus of these questions, and thus the answers we often give, usually center on the object of our thankfulness, rather than the origin of the object. Thankfulness can become a social commentary on moments, things, and memories, rather than an activity to denote gratitude. Some have hailed Thanksgiving as a secular holiday, a day in which no general direction is needed for thankfulness to be pointed.
The national holiday many celebrate in the United States isn’t meant to be something abstract or ambiguous. Our thankfulness isn’t to be directionless. Thankfulness isn’t a sandbox game without guidelines, rules, boundaries, or directions. Thankfulness entails an attitude of gratitude by a receiver or beneficiary (the person thankful) towards the giver or point of origin (the creator of the gift or benefit).
In 1863 Abraham Lincoln institutionalized Thanksgiving as a national federal holiday with these words (bolded words my emphasis):
October 3, 1863
By the President of the United States of America.
The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.
In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.
Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States the Eighty-eighth.
By the President: Abraham Lincoln
William H. Seward,
Secretary of State
The direction at the inauguration of Thanksgiving as a national holiday was to rejoice, give praise, and thanks. But this praise and thanks wasn’t directionless or aimlessly given in a happenstance circumstance. Regardless of your own political beliefs regarding Abraham Lincoln, one must acknowledge that he raises a pertinent question for you and I today. Rather than ‘What are you thankful for”, ask the question ‘Whom are you thankful towards”?
This Thanksgiving, I’m thankful towards 4 groups of people.
Firstly, I’m thankful to the great Creator, the God and Father of my Lord and savior Jesus Christ. I’m thankful for affording me the opportunity to share who Jesus is, and why he matters with gamers locally and globally.
Secondly, I’m thankful to my family. My wife for being the backbone and bedrock of my sanity. My children for being the spring of energy that is renewed every day. My parents for the faith they taught me with. My sisters for the example of godliness they set in my life. My in-laws for their ever present acceptance. And my extended family for their kindness and prayers.
Thirdly, I’m thankful to our staff at Gospel & Gaming. Michael is the eyes and ears of Gospel & Gaming, always seeking to be on the cutting edge of content. Ben is the heart and hands of Gospel & Gaming, ever present with those who lonely and in doubt.
Fourthly, I’m thankful to our supporters. Without the prayers, donations, and time of volunteers and committed believers, Gospel & Gaming simply wouldn’t exist. Thank you for making evangelism in gaming an important part of your lives.