Spirit of Thanksgiving what really matters

As a Nov. 6 Wall Street Journal article headlined “The Whenever Thanksgiving” pointed out, more Americans are celebrating what’s often dubbed “Turkey Day” earlier than on this fourth Thursday of the year’s 11th month.

One focus of the article was the fact that a recent survey of more than 2,000 adults by the Pittsburgh-based polling firm CivicScience had found 16 percent of respondents indicating that they were choosing to celebrate Thanksgiving earlier this year.

Times have indeed changed, but the Thanksgiving observance is, today, remaining front-and-center for most central Pennsylvania families, despite the fact that some families will have to juggle the time of their holiday feast in order to accommodate family members or friends who might have to work or who might be traveling here from distant locales.

No problem.

Even on Oct. 3, 1789, when President George Washington declared Nov. 26 of that year as “a day of Thanksgiving to express gratitude for the creation of the United States of America,” he didn’t specify that the day’s meal begin at a certain time. Nor did he suggest disdain for anyone who might opt to express thanks on some other day.

Thus, as the Nov. 6 Journal article reported, “enticed by cheaper travel, less competition for days off (work) and greater availability of family members, more Americans are choosing the early-bird route and celebrating Thanksgiving some other time.”

But people of this part of Pennsylvania need not fear the demise of this observance; it’s not going away.

As part of today, Catholics and non-Catholics alike will, by way of their observance of this holiday, live the liturgical message that appeared in the Nov. 16, 2015, edition of The Catholic Register, the newspaper of the Altoona-Johnstown Catholic Diocese, about giving thanks and praise to God for the many favors granted to them in their lives. They’ll also embrace another important part of that liturgical reflection, which stated that “in gratitude may we share these gifts with others.”

That was the spirit of the local Community Interfaith Thanksgiving Service held two days ago at the Simpson-Temple United Parish on Sixth Avenue.

This week’s service marked the 86th year for the interfaith holiday gathering, which was born during the Great Depression, and which has for all those years been hosted by 6th Ward houses of worship.

As for the yummy part of today, some Mirror readers probably will be sampling the pumpkin soup recipe that Lauren Kudlawiec of Ebensburg offered in her Mirror article of Nov. 15 — and for an additional reason beyond the fact that it’s a Thanksgiving treat. Under a picture of the soup that accompanied the article was the message that “this pumpkin soup is … full of healthy nutrients to fight off winter sickness.”

Meanwhile, for families in which friction might exist, the message of Susan David, a psychologist at Harvard Medical School, included in a Nov. 21, 2016, Wall Street Journal article, merits reflection:

“How can we bring our country together if we can’t bring the holiday table together?”

The 6th Ward churches had the right idea in picking “Thankful Together” as the theme for this year’s interfaith service.

But it’s a message worth living every day, not only today.

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