By Ralphine Major

“O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever.  1 Chronicles 16:34 (KJV)

Dressed in my cowgirl outfit, I was Annie Oakley—hat and all!  Growing up on our dairy farm, life was simple and time moved slowly.  Some evenings, this cowgirl would walk up the bottom land by the creek and help bring our Holstein dairy cows to the barn for milking.  The cowgirl outfit was for my fifth birthday.  Mother reminds me that the two-piece plaid with white fringe was hand-made by Katherine Ward, my aunt.  My birthday always fell a day or two after Thanksgiving.  After the turkey dinner and leftovers had disappeared, it was time for a birthday celebration.

Our world is different today, though much is the same.  The beauty of autumn still gives way to a wintry look.  Americans still observe the holiday where families come together to celebrate their “harvest” and give thanks to our Creator.  But, Thanksgiving goes far beyond the turkey and trimmings.  It can be so easy to overlook many of our blessings, like family and friends, jobs, cars, homes and hospitals, food,  clothing, churches, and schools.  There are blessings of a different kind in birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, baptisms, health, happiness, memories of loved ones who have passed on, and living in a free land.

In the wake of the recent Paris attacks, many Americans may recount their blessings this year. Indeed, decades after my cowgirl days, our world is truly different.

As families gather around bountiful tables with turkey and dressing, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin pies, may we give thanks not only for our food but for our great land and her people.  Have a safe and Happy Thanksgiving, and may God’s richest blessings be yours!  And somewhere at a dinner table in America, there may be a little girl full of dreams clad in a cowgirl outfit.