According to Facebook, it seems that almost everyday is “National (you fill in the blank) Day.” Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for days that offer free stuff like “National Donut Day” or “National Coffee Day” (#noshameinmygame), but some of the other days can be a bit silly in my opinion.
Thanksgiving, however, has been celebrated in our country in some way, shape or form for the better part of nearly 400 years and there’s definitely something to be said about that. Though historians don’t completely agree on the details of the history of Thanksgiving, there are a few undeniable recurring themes across Thanksgiving accounts from the Pilgrims’ first Thanksgiving in 1621 to the official declaration of Thanksgiving as a national holiday by Abraham Lincoln in 1863:
- Stuff was hard: Disease. Death. Drought. War. Broken families. Strife. Cultural tensions.
- Celebration was in order: Life. Mercy. Growth of crops. Bounty. Sharing. Hope. Overcoming.
- GOD: Acknowledgement of Almighty God as Provider.
This Thanksgiving, I challenge you to read through and reflect on George Washington’s Thanksgiving proclamation. You’ll be encouraged and filled with hope as he reminds us to acknowledge the One who has been so gracious, loving and merciful towards us.
Lord, this week I remember and give thanks for Your sweet blessings. But may that not be the end – help me to see beyond the gifts through to the heart of the Giver. May I be most thankful for You!
[New York, 3 October 1789]
By the President of the United States of America, a Proclamation.
Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor– and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.
Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these 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 may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks–for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation–for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war–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 particularly the national One now lately instituted–for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.
and also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions– to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually–to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed–to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord–To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and us–and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.
Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.