It’s easy to skip past Thanksgiving in the holiday rush, but there’s many reasons to slow down and put some thought into this day. The history of the Holiday is interesting in and of itself, including not only the accounts of the ‘first Thanksgiving’ given by William Bradford, but also individual days of thanksgiving proclaimed by the Continental Congress and several of our early presidents. While many of the early proclamations of a Day of Thanksgiving and Prayer followed national successes, I think it is worthy of note that some of the early ‘Thanksgivings’ were proclaimed not when things were rosy, but when there were trials and the outlook for the future seemed difficult at best. When Sam Adams penned the first national Day Of Thanksgiving in 1777, the British military was still occupying the US capital. When Abraham Lincoln officially declared an annual Thanksgiving Day in October of 1863, the nation was in the midst of a brutal civil war. One hundred years later, LBJ gave a brief Thanksgiving radio address as he began trying to help the nation move past the assassination of JFK six days earlier. Clearly, Thanksgiving Day hasn’t always come in the midst of great circumstances, but the important thing to note is that it was still celebrated. It may not have been celebrated with the Turkey and football that mark current observances, but it was celebrated nevertheless. It was celebrated with introspection, retrospection, observation, and prayers of thanks. It was celebrated with hope for better things yet to come. In view of these things, I challenge you to stop and make an evaluation, not only where you are, but where you want to be, and why. It’s pretty simple to say thanks for what you have when things are going well, but are you able to give thanks for your circumstances when things aren’t what you expect or want? I encourage you to skip the worn out cliche of ‘keeping up with the Joneses,’ and seek contentment and humility in your current situation.
If you are struggling with this, I would encourage you to go do something for someone else, whether through organized volunteering or through acts of kindness to those around you. The easiest way to remove your focus from yourself is focus on doing good for others. Visit the shut-in in your neighborhood. Take a fruit basket to your local police station. Call that long-lost relative. Get outside of yourself, and make someone else’s day while doing it.
If you’ve made it this far, thanks for hanging in. Happy Thanksgiving from our family to yours.