Common Core? US History quiz? No, thoughts beyond the turkey of Thursday and the frantic shopping of Friday!
The Pilgrims did come to these shores seeking not gold, but freedom to worship as they chose. And they would have starved had it not been for the help they received from the American Indians.
However, never in their wildest dreams could our ancestors have conceived of the feasts of the 21st century! Lest we forget the foundational reasons for this holiday, here’s a bit of history to ponder:
George Washington, issued a National Day of Thanksgiving proclamation, in which he wrote:
“…I do recommend and assign Thursday, the twenty-sixth day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these United States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be.
“That we then may all unite unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection… for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and … for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed…”
Thanksgiving did not become a national holiday until in 1863. In October of that year, Abraham Lincoln issued a formal proclamation calling on the country to observe the last Thursday of November “as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.”
When you gather together to feast, laugh and share those family stories, make sure to include the reasons that underlie the occasion! My brother’s prayer acknowledged so many ways God had blessed us. I recalled a Puritan prayer, “Praise and Thanksgiving,” from Valley of Vision.
“O my God, Thou fairest, greatest, first of all objects, my heart admires, adores, loves thee, for my little vessel is as full as it can be, and I would pour out all that fullness before thee in ceaseless flow.
When I think upon and converse with thee ten thousand delighted thoughts spring up, ten thousand sources of pleasures are unsealed, ten thousand refreshing joys spread over my heart, crowding into every moment of happiness.
I bless thee for the soul thou hast created, for adorning it, sanctifying it, though it is fixed in barren soil; for the body thou hast given me, for preserving its strength and vigor, for providing senses to enjoy delights, for the ease and freedom of my limbs, for hands, eyes, ears that do thy bidding; for thy royal bounty providing my daily support, for a full table and overflowing cup, for appetite, taste sweetness, for social joys of relatives and friends, for ability to serve others, for a heart that feels sorrows and necessities, for a mind to care for my fellow-men, for opportunities of spreading happiness around, for loved ones in the joys of heaven, for my own expectation of seeing thee clearly.
I love thee above the powers of language to express, for what thou art to thy creatures.
Increase my love, O my God, through time and eternity.”