Tuesday, November 24, 2009


I love holidays. Especially THE holidays. But lately I've noticed more and more that people don't recognize holidays for the purpose intended. Memorial Day is seen by most as a day that we're given off so that we can have a barbeque. Easter is a day for eating chocolate and hunting for eggs. Christmas is a day that a fat man breaks into our homes and leaves toys. I realize that these are hyperbolic generalizations and many people do remember the source of these holidays, but I feel like Thanksgiving is one that's source really isn't remembered. Yes we remember the Pilgrims coming to town and getting together for a big feast with the Indians to celebrate the first harvest, but that isn't the source that I'm after. If that were the source it be would be called Feast Day or Pilgrim Day or something similar. In today's society we make the mistake of calling it Turkey Day altogether too often. But that isn't the name of the holiday. It's name is Thanksgiving.
Let's take a look at the word thanksgiving and break it down. Thanks and giving. The giving of thanks. Thankfulness is important and often people get together and express gratitude. But expressing gratitude and giving thanks are different. The verb to express differs from to give. One can express things alone, to a wall, and the action is complete, but in order to give something there has to be another party involved. So the question is, to whom do we give our thanks? The turkey? Unfortunately the poor bird is lifelessly incapable of the reception of such. I think it is clear what I'm getting at. There is but one source from which all blessings in our lives flow. There is but one fount of all the things in our lives for which we can be grateful. Do we sufficiently think to give Him thanks? Even if we say thankyou is saying it enough? I don't think so.
The holiday which we celebrate this week incites us to give thanks. In Spanish the name of this holiday is Día de Acción de Gracias. The Day of the Action of Thanks. I like that. Thanks as an action, thanks as something that is acted out is a way of thinking about this holiday that I think needs to be more prevalent. So how is this done? How do we, through our actions, give thanks to the Lord? There are many answers to this question. I have a few that are pertinent to me in my life, but I think the answers can be different for everybody and that everybody needs to come to their own conclusion.
Amulek summed things up well when he said, "That ye contend no more against the Holy Ghost, but that ye receive it, and take upon you the name of Christ; that ye humble yourselves even to the dust, and worship God, in whatsoever place ye may be in, in spirit and in truth; and that ye live in thanksgiving daily, for the many mercies and blessings which he doth bestow upon you."

Friday, November 13, 2009


All throughout my life I've disliked starlings. They are loud and obnoxious birds that commit a host of sins including preying on the eggs of other smaller and prettier birds. In the formative years of my youth I heard many stories about the pestilent nature of starlings and the various efforts made to get rid of them. I think my favorite of such stories is that told of Grandpa Dunn feeding hundreds of starlings plaster of paris and the ensuing weeks filled with dead starlings as far as the eye could see. I even recall reading a small excerpt in the New Era wherein President Monson briefly discussed (without giving any doctrinal conclusion) the ethics of shooting starlings.
I personally remember many a happy afternoon spent alone in the field behind our house chasing starlings and trying to catch them. You may ask what I planned to do with them once I'd caught them, but I didn't think that far ahead. I just knew that it was absolutely necessary that they be caught. I never did succeed despite my diving lunges.
In the fall it seemed that all the starlings in the valley would congregate in Bluffdale and fly around en masse. It was always a fascinating sight to see their complex and ever-changing formations. It was almost like a dance the way they would shift completely in sync with the thousands of others all around them.
To me starlings are linked inextricably to Bluffdale and my childhood there. So while they are a vile creature, I can't help but to think of them fondly.
I recently ran across this video that glosses over the baser aspects of starlings' existence, but shows them for the beauty they are capable of creating. While I've never seen anything of this magnitude, this rekindled that begrudging fondness I have for starlings.