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Life on the family farm under an open heaven: Is it right to celebrate Thanksgiving?

Tom Heck for Progressive Dairy Published on 18 November 2021

“O give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good: for his mercy endureth forever” (Psalm 107:1 KJV).

Quite a statement. And yet, that is exactly what the Pilgrims did their first years here and afterwards. Many of the pilgrims died the first couple of years here. Very poor housing, little food and bitter cold winters led to many of them dying. And yet, every year in the fall they would set aside some days to rejoice and give thanks to God for His many blessings.

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History tells us they had many hardships and trials here, yet they gave God thanks for their many blessings. They were blessed with life, liberty and the freedom to follow God and praise Him for His many blessings on them – something no amount of money on earth could buy.

Life was very hard for them, they knew it would be when they set sail from England, yet they did it to follow God. They never regretted it. Today, their descendants (along with the rest of us) enjoy so much because they sacrificed so much.

Growing up and working on my parents’ dairy farm, we never celebrated Thanksgiving; it was just another long day of work on the farm with the cattle and the crops. After coming to know the Lord at 20 years of age, I started to see it was right to set time aside to give God thanks for His many blessings to us. So I started to do it, and then several years later, after I got married and we got our own farm, we were able to set Thanksgiving Day aside and give God thanks for His many blessings.

It’s been a privilege to write this column for many years now, along with serving on a very important board. One of the great benefits of this has been all the people we’ve had visit us on our farm here over the years. We’ve learned so much from them. People from a number of states, along with people from several different nations have visited. One time I happened to be talking to Mark, from Paris, right at Thanksgiving time, and I asked him about celebrating Thanksgiving in France. I was shocked at his answer: “They don’t celebrate Thanksgiving; that’s strictly an American holiday – you should know that.” I replied, “I know it started in America, but I thought over time many countries around the world adopted it to give thanks to God for His many blessings.” Mark’s reply? “No, that’s just an American holiday.” I was stunned.

On our farm, we as a family celebrate Thanksgiving every year. Joanne prepares a very special dinner, and as we eat we recount the many blessings God has bestowed on us in the last year and in previous years also. We thank the Lord for them all – that’s what Thanksgiving is for. Afterwards, we will play a game or do something else fun together as a family.

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No matter the trials, hardships and battles we go through, sometimes from the most unexpected places, we have much to thank God for. Now, I must admit, there have been a couple of years when we did not celebrate Thanksgiving on the official day because something major came up. When that happened, we just picked a different day to celebrate it on. The important thing is to set time aside to give God thanks for His many blessings on us. We always need to do this.

From our farm to all of you reading this: Have a blessed Thanksgiving. end mark

Tom Heck, his wife, Joanne, and their two children own and operate a 35-cow dairy farm in Wisconsin. Contact Tom Heck  or order his book at Tom Heck.

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