Samantha Murphey is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon Woman) and has interned with the New York Daily News
My Thanksgiving memories are a blur of ordinary things — family gatherings, fall leaves, cozy fires, parades, touch football, pumpkin pie, turkey and trimmings. Flickers and flurries and fun. My memories are dotted wits.h the classic elementary school holiday crafts — tracings of tiny hands made to look like turkey feathers — and dinner table chatter. I’ll never forget the Thanksgiving our neighbor boy, who was spending the holiday with us, gave us all a lecture on the origin of the word “cornucopia” that lasted the whole meal. We ate in silence, and laughed about it afterward. What a personality, he was, an endearing one.
My Thanksgiving traditions are typical, but I’m OK with that. It seems fitting, because for me — a woman who believes in a God who grants me daily breath — Thanksgiving is a blessed opportunity to celebrate the richness and wonder of the ordinary things I usually take for granted, like waking up each day, like a healthy body that moves and functions as it should, like the people in my life who love me and forgive me when I make mistakes, like laughter and safety and sunlight. It’s the ordinary things that make up the bulk of our lives. It’s the ordinary things that make us human and bind us all together as people and as Americans.
My faith in the gospel of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, known erroneously to many as the “Mormon Church,” is at the top of my list of things to be thankful for. It shapes every part of my daily life. It defines who I am. It lifts me out of hopelessness and strengthens me in moments of weakness. My country — the United States of America — is also at the top of my list. The freedoms it stands for, including the freedom of religion, made possible the restoration of the true gospel of Jesus Christ and the birth of the religion I am blessed to be a part of today. Mormonism is a uniquely American-born faith.
It began with Jesus Christ, his twelve apostles and the organization they established in Jerusalem hundreds of years ago, but it began anew with Joseph Smith, a 14-year-old farm boy from upstate New York. In the spring of 1820, Joseph knelt in prayer in a quiet grove of trees near his home, asking God which of the many churches he should join. God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, appeared to Joseph in a vision, telling him that none of the churches were entirely true and whole, that perfect truth had been lost in the world. From that day onward, Joseph dedicated his life to carrying out the will of God in restoring the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ to the earth.
This vision and the work and sacrifice that followed it flourished because of the foundational values of the United States and the tirelessness with which Americans fight for the right to worship how, where, and what they may. This freedom and the fierceness with which it is protected are American. I am American. I am grateful to be American and grateful to celebrate America’s history and subscribe to its traditions, as “ordinary” as they may be.
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