There is a friendly debate among historians as to when the first Thanksgiving was celebrated in America. Some say it was in Virginia in 1610, and others hold fast to our traditional first Thanksgiving celebrated in Plymouth Plantation, Massachusetts, in 1621.
Whichever side of the debate one chooses to embrace, the fact remains that Thanksgiving Day is ours.
Before America existed as a nation, the hardy souls who persevered to found this great country made the effort to thank God Almighty for His provision and grace.
Giving thanks in Virginia, Massachusetts, and many other settlements across the new world was a spontaneous act by grateful people. They experienced a life so rugged, that without the providence of God they would have surely not survived. They were grateful for God’s favor and blessing.
Our first President, George Washington, a man acclaimed to be the Father of our Country, acknowledged God as the source of our Nation’s strength and very existence. He felt so strongly about this that he made a proclamation for a national day of thanksgiving on Thursday, November 26th, 1789.
President Abraham Lincoln made it an official national holiday on Thursday, November 26th, 1863. He believed in the importance of setting aside a day to honor God and give thanks individually and corporately as a people.
Thanksgiving day has become a tradition, which like other traditions, has developed, grown, and transitioned from being a simple spiritual act of acknowledging God’s blessings, to a national event of unbridled proportions.
Ball games, shopping, days off from work, and travel are just a few of the Thanksgiving activities that can encumber us and help us to forget the true meaning of the holiday.
This day is meant to be a time to stop, take notice of our blessings, and acknowledge God with a grateful heart. Lest we forget, there have been Thanksgivings in the past that were very trying and somber, days of prayer and fasting.
Today, one could say that we are too busy enjoying our blessings to pause and be thankful. We all share in the responsibility for the national event that Thanksgiving Day has become because it is our day.
I am so thankful to God that He has given us the freedom to worship Him with our thanks. And the blessings that we enjoy over this holiday are truly from Him.
I believe He continues to bless us in part because we do take a day, our day, each year, and as a people tell the whole world that we thank Almighty God for His provident grace.
The Bible says: “Give thanks to the LORD and proclaim his greatness. Let the whole world know what he has done.” (1 Chronicles 16:8 NLT)
This Thanksgiving as we share our feast with our loved ones, plan our shopping for Friday, and our Christmas decorating for Saturday, give a nod to our forbearers whose grateful hearts made this all possible.
Enjoy taking part in a celebration uniquely our own, individually and corporately. Pass on to the next generation the knowledge of how blessed we are as individuals, families, and as a people.
Speak of the mighty and wondrous things that the Lord has done, and share our thankful hearts one with another.
“Let each generation tell its children of your mighty acts; let them proclaim your power.” (Psalm 145:4 NLT)
The famous author O. Henry wrote, “There is one day that is ours. There is one day when all we Americans who are not self-made go back to the old home to eat biscuits and marvel how much nearer to the porch the old pump looks than it used to. Thanksgiving Day is the one day that is purely American.”