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Never let a day pass without giving thanks

A few years ago, then Troy City Council President Johnny Witherington paused at the end of a council meeting, reflecting before he began his comments:

“It was September of the year 1720. A small ship called the Mayflower left England carrying 102 passengers. They were seeking a new home where they could freely practice their faith. They held firmly the hope for prosperity and land ownership in the New World.

“The voyage was brutal, but 66 days later they arrived and subsequently settled in a place they called Plymouth, Massachusetts. Less than half of the original crew and passengers lived to see their first spring. They dug seen times more graves than the huts they built to live in.

“No Americans have been more impoverished than those early pilgrims who, despite their hunger and suffering, set aside a day of Thanksgiving.

“And for us today, we should never let a day or night pass but that we would still remember what the Lord has done for us.

“Happy Thanksgiving.”

Witherington’s heartfelt words give us pause to reflect on the true meaning of Thanksgiving, each and every day of our lives.

Today, we gather with family and friends and celebrate the blessings of our lives. We’ll enjoy bountiful feasts, plenty of football and televised parades, and, yes, even more than our fair share of consumerism as pre-Black Friday shopping and planning gets underway.

We’ll raise the impolite subjects of politics and religion at the table – debating the issues of refugees and presidential politics, Auburn or Alabama loyalties, as we dine on turkey and dressing.

And, along the way, we will give thanks – thanks for our family and loved ones; for a safe home, a warm house; for the opportunity to work and worship in a republic that allows freedom of speech, freedom of religion and freedom to pursue our dreams.

Hopefully, we’ll be mindful of those less fortunate – the least among us who suffer from poverty, or loneliness, or sickness or strife – and we’ll pray for them.

But the challenge, as Mr. Witherington gently noted, is to carry that spirit of thankfulness and reflection beyond today, to embrace and live it the remaining 364 days of the year.

We are blessed, even in our challenges and our sufferings.

And for that, we are grateful – today and every day.