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Students 'thankful' for holiday

Nov. 19, 1998

BY BRITTNEY PARTRIDGE

Staff Writer

Brittney_Partridge@baylor.edu

Thanksgiving is a holiday rich in tradition and heritage, and at this time each year many students head home to family and friends, eagerly anticipating the warm and wonderful smells of turkey and pumpkin pie.

Baylor also takes an opportunity to commemorate this festive holiday and show its thankfulness for blessings received throughout the year at the traditional Thanksgiving Worship Service. At 8 tonight, students and faculty may gather in Miller Chapel to attend this service and join Baylor in reflecting upon the many reasons to express thankfulness for all God has done.

Baylor has much to be thankful for because it is not just an institution, but a place that people really love, said President Robert B. Sloan Jr.

'I think we have to be thankful for our very existence, because there have been many times throughout our history when Baylor was on the brink of dying as an institution,' Sloan said. 'God's hand has been on us for 153 years, and we have outstanding alumni and friends that support us and excellent faculty and students. I think people genuinely love Baylor, and that gives us a lot to be thankful for.'

Most Americans refer to the Pilgrims' feast in 1621 after their first bountiful harvest as the first Thanksgiving. However, this feast was not the beginning of an annual tradition; it was simply a time to celebrate the harvest and offer thanks to God through prayer and feasting.

Thanksgiving was established as a national holiday in 1863 by Abraham Lincoln. He believed that nations whose God was the Lord were truly blessed, and he thought the American people had forgotten God, the gracious hand that preserved them in peace and multiplied, enriched and strengthened them. Because of Lincoln's strong faith, he declared the last Thursday in November a day of Thanksgiving, a day to thank God for His many blessings.

From what we know about the Pilgrims' feast in 1621, many people gathered together to thank God for the blessings bestowed upon them, and the food and conversation were plentiful. Even though this feast was not the actual beginning of this tradition, many people today use it as a model for their own Thanksgiving holiday.

Amanda Weaver, a Kingwood sophomore, said the Thanksgiving holiday is a restful time for her and her family.

'Sometimes while you're at school you tend to forget how thankful you are for your family and friends,' Weaver said. 'Thanksgiving really brings things in perspective for me. It really does make you think about what all you're thankful for.'

Weaver said her family always eats a Thanksgiving lunch together with turkey, dressing and all the trimmings, but they also begin to bring out the Christmas decorations.

'Thanksgiving also makes you start to think about Christmas and how thankful you are for God's love and for the gift of His son,' Weaver said. 'We start listening to Christmas music while we're putting up the tree and decorations, but my dad is a big Dallas fan, so of course he always gets the decorations down during half time. I'm sure the Pilgrims didn't have football conflicts.'

For many families, Thanksgiving is one of the only times they have to all be together during the course of the year.

'Thanksgiving and Christmas are really the only times that most of our family can be together at one time,' John Wideman, a San Antonio junior, said. 'I think it has always meant for me a time of sitting down and enjoying being around the people who mean the most to me, sharing with them what is going on in my life and being thankful for the opportunity to do that. We all get together over at one house, and we have a big turkey, sometimes two, pies, rolls, corn and green beans. We all just sit down and stuff our faces until we roll out of our chairs and onto the couch.'

After gathering around the table to enjoy a meal together, many American families have a second gathering. This time, they enjoy one another's company around the television to partake in another Thanksgiving Day tradition--football.

'I would definitely say that the Cowboy's games every year are always a highlight for the men in my family,' Wideman said. 'Everybody usually has a spot on the couch that they designate as their territory. These games don't overshadow the meaning of Thanksgiving, but they definitely play a big part.'

In the Wideman family, as in many other families, Thanksgiving is an all-day celebration. After the food, fellowship and football, it is time to enjoy the leftovers.

'Usually, a couple of hours after the meal, everybody goes back for seconds, and that goes on until we absolutely can't take anymore,' Wideman said. 'In the course of it all, we get an opportunity just to spend a lot of neat time together and just share.'

Thanksgiving means different things to many different individuals, but all seem to agree that it is a time to be thankful for the blessings in life.

'For me personally, the first thing is gratitude for the grace of God in my life and then gratitude for my family,' Sloan said. 'I've been very blessed to have the parents that I had, my brother and sister, and my wife and children.'

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