"What are you thankful for, Daddy?"
"Mmm, let's see," the President said, taking a moment to just be Daddy for now. "Oof," he groaned, picking up his young daughter. "You're gettin' heavy, munchkin! Don't eat too much at Thanksgiving dinner, or I might not be able to pick you up at all tonight!"
"Daddy!" Patricia giggled, hugging him around the neck.
"Okay, okay," Thomas relented. "I'm thankful for you. What'd you expect?" He kissed his daughter on the cheek and set her down again. "Now, run off and get ready! We don't want to be late."
Later that same day, dressed in their Sunday finest, Thomas and his daughter entered the large Presbyterian church. Patricia went off with an aide to sit down, while President Whitmore adressed the country and many parts of the rest of the world via live video.
"Even though Thanksgiving as we know it here in our country, with the turkeys and pilgrims, is an American holiday," he said, pacing his words as always to give the listeners a chance to soak in his meaning without getting bored by too many long pauses, "today we have chosen to join our hearts and minds together with the peoples of the rest of the world to give thanks. This is not a legal requirement - if you do not wish to participate, you don't have to. But I think I speak for all of us when I say that still being here to give thanks is too precious a gift to pass up." Thomas paused briefly to smile at his daughter, who waved at him encouragingly from her seat.
"So now," he went on, "let us join our voices together all over the world in this traditional hymn of thanks that we've all agreed on: 'Give Thanks With a Grateful Heart'."
Everyone in the large, ornate church stood, some opening their hymnbooks or bulletins, others singing from memory:
"Give thanks with a grateful heart.
Give thanks to the Holy One..."
"Merci, car Il a donné Jésus-Christ, Son Fils."
As the father led his congregation in the hymn the world had chosen, he looked out across them with tears in his eyes. God is good! he thought. Thank you, Father, for protecting your flock!
When the aliens had come this last July, Father Pierre had been afraid that his nearly fifty year long service to God as a priest was going to come to an abrupt end in Armageddon - but the people of the earth had been spared. Father Pierre was personally convinced that this, too, was part of what Jesus Christ had given himself up on the cross for. Many French soldiers - as well as soldiers in nearly every other country in the entire world - had died, but many, many more people had lived. His heart went out to those in the congregation who had personally lost loved ones, but he knew they were proud of those loved ones' sacrifice, and he believed those brave souls were now in the arms of their maker.
"Ima, hanase 'wa tsuyoi,'"
Haruki stood next to his parents, his grandmother, and his two younger sisters, while his oji-chan , his grandfather, stood facing the rest of the family before their household's Shinto shrine. The shrine stood in the great yard of their traditional Japanese home. Haruki's older brother, Denji, had been killed in the great war with the aliens who had come to destroy everyone on earth, and nine-year-old Haruki missed him terribly. The family had been told by the government that it had at least been a brave death - his brother had died diverting a series of attacks away from another plane that carried precious missiles by drawing the enemy fire on himself.
Nii-san, he thought respectfully as the whole family sang along with the world in thanks, Big brother, I'll never forget you! Thank you for our lives.
"Pobres dicen 'Soy rico,'"
Yeah, the world's shot to hell, David reflected, settling into the pew seat of the small Catholic church next to Connie, but at least we've still got our planet - and maybe we'll stop destroying it ourselves now.
Connie, David, and several others had driven down to Mexico in a caravan of assorted busses and trucks, both civilian and U.S. government issue, bringing with them a supply of computers, medical supplies, and anything else the U.S. could both think of and spare to help out their neighboring country - their group could have chosen to split up and go find their own individual places of worship, and David could have found a synagogue, but everyone had chosen to stay together for the Thanksgiving celebration.
It seems like such a petty difference, now, David thought to himself. Not to say that religion isn't important, of course! But I'm sure God doesn't want us killing each other over Him. That's the last thing He'd want.
The group's return trip to the U.S. wasn't going to be wasted, either - they were also visiting to ask the Mexican people to send a work force back with the group. Managerial positions in construction jobs awaited them there. The fact that in Mexico, construction was almost entirely done by shovel rather than vehicle meant that many of the Mexican people had work experience that was invaluable in the broken world humanity now found itself in. Still, there was always something to be grateful for. David was reminded by his rambling thoughts of something his father had told him, just before he had realized how to stop the aliens from killing everyone on the planet and taking it for themselves:
'You've still got your health, David.'
Yeah, Dad, David thought, smiling sidelong at his wife as he took her hand. You're right - but I've got so much more than that.
"Aufgrund dessen, was der Herr für uns getan hat."
The traditional hymn sounded bold and proud to Edda translated into her native German. She stood in front of her end pew seat and belted out the words, with her husband seated just into the aisle next to her in his wheelchair.
In the fight for the earth's survival, his plane had been hit by alien fire and crashlanded. Both his legs had been crushed, and his left arm had been injured beyond repair as well. His legs had had to be amputated at the knees, and his arm was completely gone now, but he was still alive and he still burned with the same bright spirit she had fallen in love with as a girl.
As if sensing her thoughts for him, he reached up with his right hand and tightly clasped it around her left, singing as forcefully as every other person in their Lutheran church.
Germany, like every other country, had long dreamed of world unity - a dream that that horrible man, Adolph Hitler, had twisted into an unspeakable nightmare of evil and death during the second world war in the 1930's and 40's. Her own father had been pressed into service as a Nazi soldier at the age of 16, and he still bore the war scars of shame from that. But now the world had joined in unity - against a totally and literally alien threat, and had finally united in true peace. Edda was glad of that.
"Dank met een dankbaar hart,"
Marjolein smiled as she sang with her fellow church goers, led in the hymn by the children's choir that stood at the head of the small Dutch reformed church. Her own two children were in the choir; her six-year-old little boy and her eight-year-old daughter. She had been raising them on her own for a while now. Marjolein had been widowed, but not in the recent battle with the aliens. Her husband had died of an extremely severe case of pneumonia three years ago. She still loved him with all her heart and missed him terribly, but Marjolein was still young, and perhaps she would remarry someday. The children needed a father again.
None of the alien ships had hovered over Holland itself, but everyone in Marjolein's small village had spent that time crowded breathlessly around radios and television sets to hear what the news would tell them of the world's fate. Many of the younger men had gone off to fight the aliens with the countries that had been targeted. After all, if they had lost, the whole world would have been doomed. Most of those men had returned home by now, but others had stayed away to continue to help as the world was rebuilding from the international disaster.
Marjolein glanced gratefully to her right, where her old father stood and sang with her, their church, and the rest of the world. She was secretly thankful that he had been too old and frail to fight - she couldn't bear the thought of having lost him. It had taken convincing enough to prevent him from joining the fight as it was. She felt sorry for every woman and girl - including her own daughter - who ever had lost her father.
"...Give thanks to the Holy One,
Give thanks because He's given Jesus Christ, His Son.
And now let the weak say, 'I am strong,'
Let the poor say, 'I am rich,'
Because of what the Lord has done for us."
Captain Steven Hiller turned to smile at Jasmine, reaching down to put a hand on little Dylan's head as they sang. Dylan grinned up at his stepfather at the gesture, and sang even louder, grabbing both his parents' hands in his own small ones.
I'm so grateful for this beautiful family of mine, Steve thought as he sang. And I ain't lettin' no aliens come shooting their way down from the sky to take them away from me - ever.
Jasmine was pregnant again now, just three months along, but all three of them were already eager to welcome the new baby into the family when it was born.
Rebuilding the planet back into some semblance of order wasn't exactly how the Hillers had been planning on spending Thanksgiving that year - most likely no one had. Nobody was in a mood to complain, however. They were all too overwhelmed with gratitude to even still be alive.
Those ugly dudes just better never show their faces down here again, Steve thought, feeling fiercely protective of his family and his planet. There didn't seem to be much risk of another attack at this point, though. The earth would be ready if it happened, but for now it was just time to celebrate and rebuild. Steve looked around at the other people in their local church, reflecting on how normal it had become recently for everyone to make friends with strangers who had never met each other before in their lives, and had had nothing in common before this last July.
Noticing her husband was lost in thought, Jasmine reached across Dylan with her free hand and gently tugged on the sleeve of Steve's uniform. Drawn back to the present, he turned to share a grin with her and they kept singing, their voices blending together with those of all the other people in the church with them.
"...and the lion and the lamb shall lie down together," the army priest was reading from the bible, as an interpreter stood next to him, translating the text into Arabic. The imam stood nearby, waiting to perform the Muslim portion of the Thanksgiving service.
Both sides of the conflict had stopped the war in their tracks when the aliens had come four months ago, and joined all their forces and supplies and military intelligence together to help defeat them. Now British and Iraqi soldiers sat on the ground side by side, even pressing together for warmth in the chill November evening air.
Author's Note: Please, please find it somehow in your hearts to forgive me for the translations into French, Japanese, Spanish, German, and Dutch - out of those, I only even barely speak Japanese and Spanish at ALL. In writing this fanfic, I was almost entirely at the mercy of an online free language translator. I tried, first, to look up the hymn in different languages to find the "official" lyrics in those languages, but I had no luck finding ANYTHING, so I translated it all by hand. If you have a more correct/literal translation for any of these lines into their respective languages, please feel more than invited to review and post them! Oh yeah, and HAPPY THANKSGIVING, EVERYONE!