November 20, 2011
It’s an interesting thing, to talk about our “growing up” years, and about the important Holy Days and holidays our families celebrated and held as important.
Some of us celebrated the “gift giving” associated with Christmas on the feast of Saint Nicholas (the 6th of December). These families imitated the good Bishop Nicholas, and offered small presents to their family members and to a few poor families, poor families that have so many needs. This allowed them to celebrate the Nativity of the Lord on Christmas morning without the “double message” of His birth and their toys!
Others of us would do our “exchange of gifts” on either the Eve of Christmas or just after Midnight Mass or on Christmas morning before Mass. And no matter which of the traditions the family followed, it was usually strong, as in…this is how we do it…each family making that decision.
The other great Solemnity in our liturgical calendar, along with the Nativity of the Lord, is Holy Week and Easter. For these two great Solemnities and for the special feast days associated with our patron saints, there would often be a special meal prepared and shared. Some families would have special meals for Christmas Day, for Easter, inviting over relatives and friends. Other families did not. Again, it depended on the family.
But there is one civil holiday in these United States that unites our Catholic family with a singular tradition (for almost everyone): Thanksgiving Day is about family and about giving thanks and about a shared meal. For my family, Thanksgiving Day was truly a Holy Day…a day that all turned our hearts to God…thanking God for the family.
In my family, for us children, Thanksgiving Day had its own ritual: watching the parades on TV (as you smelled the food cooking); being called to set the table; assisting in bringing all out of the kitchen and onto the table; the family prayer and the meal, remembering to thank mom and all the relatives that helped her; football for some of us, naps for others; helping make the homemade ice cream; helping to eat the homemade ice cream. Your family probably had its own ritual…when you were growing up.
But some of us were not as fortunate. Some families as families were not as supportive, as cooperative or as healthy. And, some of us don’t have a place to go to on Thursday; but there is a place…
Please remember that we have a Mass of Thanksgiving on Thanksgiving Day, at 9 AM. Come and join me in thanksgiving, in eukaristia (Greek for thanksgiving…for Eucharist, Holy Communion); and if it is possible within your family’s Thanksgiving Day ritual, why not bring in a neighbor, or one without a family. The Lord Jesus teaches us that whoever gives a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he or she is my disciple….amen, I say to you…they will have their reward (Matthew 10.42).
Happy Thanksgiving Day!