by Andrew Koslosky KGCHS, Contributing Writer

Let me take this opportunity to wish you all a very Happy Holiday Season and in particular a Happy Thanksgiving.  In this world we are living in, we sometimes forget the true meaning of the Thanksgiving Holiday.

Thanksgiving is that time where we are reminded to take a moment or two to reflect on the overall picture. It’s a time to be thankful for family, friends, gifts, talents, and opportunities which we have been blessed with by God.

In 1963, President John F. Kennedy provided some clarity when he acknowl- edged the Virginia and Massachusetts claims of celebrating the first Thanksgiving in the United States.

The President wrote, “Over Three centuries ago, our forefathers in Virginia and Massachusetts, far from home, in a lonely wilderness, set aside a time of Thanksgiving. On the appointed day, they gave reverent thanks for their safety, for good health, for the fertility of their crops and for the faith which united them in God.”

Our country’s founders recognized the importance of being thankful to our God. It is a tradition our founders felt was essential to thank God for gifts received, and for gifts to be received that would take our nation from its early years to its present leader among nations.

The importance of Thanksgiving Day in our lives can’t be measured. Yet, it seems corporate America would persist in skipping over Thanksgiving and going directly from Halloween to The Christmas Shopping Season.

Let’s examine the facts…

I could barely believe my ears when turning on the radio, while driving this past Monday, I was welcomed by Gene Autry’s Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. This was followed by Christmas song after Christmas Song.

In fact, the only words related to Thanksgiving had to do with something called “Black Friday.”

Yes…”Black Friday” is the term defined for the Friday after Thanksgiving that marks the start of the Holiday Shopping Season.

However, a trip to Walmart or Best Buy, and you learn that “Black Friday” actually begins a week before that Friday….Then there’s something called “Cyber Monday”, which is defined as the day where shoppers are encouraged to shop online the Monday after Thanksgiving.

But fear not, should you miss “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday”, there’s always “Cyber Week”….which is the extension of “Cyber Monday” to the following Friday.

Confused yet? Most notably, not a word about the Thanksgiving Holiday and what it stands for….It’s all about commerce and shopping…and Santa hasn’t even made it to town yet.

Is it any surprise that another one of our traditions is being ignored and forgotten.

We are surrounded by poor leadership in government and sadly even in areas that we have traditionally drawn strength from…namely our schools. We are sadly divided as a country, not on the issues, but ideology, as if one way of thinking will solve all the issues of the world.

There is little respect for different opinions and even less desire to work together. The family structure, roles, and traditions have little value in this world that has no place for accountability or reasoning.

For those few who still maintain the strong values and beliefs, who are leaders, and who dedicate their time to causes that have genuine importance…there is a feeling of frustration and overall exhaustion.

Because of this, it is essential that we remember how important it is to be pas- sionate about our beliefs and to persevere.

We are one nation, under God. Is there anyone out there that still thinks we can get through this without God on our side? We will always meet leaders who will disappoint us in life.

Politicians will always find ways to disappoint but should never be an excuse for not respecting what our country stands for.

The same goes for our religious leaders. Scandal by leaders is not an excuse to abandon the teachings and our beliefs. Nor should we take issue with the majority of leaders who work so hard with great dedication to our communities.

To our Leaders, when you feel unappreciated for all the hard work, or feel like you are taken for granted…you must resolve with a the picture in mind of that one person who your worked with and might have helped.

Never allow those who are doing things for the wrong reasons to influence your decision to lead and always remain dedicated to those causes you believe in, being thankful to God for all.

We are, always have been, and always will be, the strength of our country, of our world and of our religious communities…and we must never forget it.

The difference we make by using our gifts in today’s difficult and divided world is very important and is essential if we are to come out of the present state of divide we are in.

So, this Thanksgiving week, before or after all the wonderful food and desserts, all the football games and before the shopping spree, take the time to reflect on the gifts and opportunities you have been given, both material and spiritual, and give thanks to God.

Additionally, I offer a reminder to keep in mind all of our extended families and all who are dealing with various struggles during this holiday season. We some- times forget that the holidays, while full of wonderful moments and memories, can be very sad for those who have lost family and friends.

Please also remember those who are dealing with illness, bereavement and other issues that might make it difficult for them to enjoy the season. Remember to reach out to all of our brothers and sis- ters, keeping them in your thoughts and prayers.

The Holiday season is a time to unite and remember we are all one family. This is one of the great gifts given us by God, and we should be thankful.

My wish for you all this upcoming Holiday Season is Peace in life, the blessings of Laughter and Love in your life, and most of all the ability to take some time to reflect, connect with and give thanks to our God for all he has given us.

Peace and Blessings to all and a very Happy Thanksgiving!!!