Oh, Give Thanks

This week millions will celebrate the grand holiday of Thanksgiving. Our heritage precipitated it and our gratitude perpetuates it. In certain circles the meaning has been diminished. In some public schools it is now represented as a time when the Pilgrims got together with the Native Americans to thank them for their help. Not so.

Out of hearts of thanksgiving in 1621 the Pilgrims met with 90 Wampanoag Indians for a time of thanksgiving to God for His blessings on them. For three days they celebrated and feasted on clams, corn, codfish, geese, ducks, turkey, eel, bass, barley, venison, and corn bread.

Such was the land of the Pilgrims’ pride.

Two years later in 1623 a drought threatened the Pilgrims. Governor Bradford issued a proclamation on November 29 that all the people should gather in the meeting house to “listen to ye pastor, and render thanksgiving to ye God for all His blessings.” Before the meetings were held rains came and the services became times of thanksgiving. 

In 1789 President George Washington issued a Thanksgiving proclamation setting the last Thursday of November as a time of giving thanks for the new Constitution. 

In 1863 Sarah Joseph Hale, author of the well known poem, “Mary Had a Little Lamb” persuaded President Lincoln to establish a day of Thanksgiving. The fourth Thursday of November was set. 

In 1941 Congress established the fourth Thursday of November as a national holiday of Thanksgiving.

President Washington’s proclamation contained in part the following:

“It is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of All Mighty God,
to obey His will,
to be grateful for His benefits,
and to humbly implore His protection and favor,
to pardon our national and other transgressions,
to render our National Government a blessing to all of the people
by being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws,
discretely and faithfully executed and obeyed.”

Residents of the Land of the Pilgrims’ pride had reason for giving thanks and they did. How much more have we cause to give thanks. Be sure to do it.    

Reflect on this little chorus:
When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings name them one by one,
Count your many blessings see what God has done.