A national day of thanksgiving has been a part of American life since the earliest days of our country in the early 1600s. By the mid-17th century, the custom of thanksgivings was established throughout New England and began to spread southward during the American Revolution. The newly established Congress recognized the need for such a celebration. The Founding Fathers thought it important that this tradition be recognized by proclamation.
Soon after approving the Bill of Rights, a motion was made in Congress to initiate the proclamation of a national day of thanksgiving. In 1789 Congress requested that the president "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...." And President Washington did just that.
After 1815 the annual tradition of a presidential proclamation ceased and did not resume until during the Civil War, when President Lincoln proclaimed a national day of thanksgiving. The traditional day eventually became the last Thursday of November.
That proclamation was repeated for the following 75 years by every subsequent president, until 1939, when Franklin D. Roosevelt moved Thanksgiving Day up one week earlier than had been tradition to appease merchants who wanted more time to feed the growing pre-Christmas consumer frenzy. Folding to Congressional pressure two years later, Roosevelt signed a resolution returning Thanksgiving to the last Thursday of November, as Congress in 1941 permanently set the last Thursday of each November as our national day of Thanksgiving.
All these proclamations mentioned the giving of thanks to God for His blessings to us. I'm glad that Thanksgiving is officially a holiday and no longer a yearly proclamation since I can't imagine today's Congress and president even considering the proclamation of a national day of thanksgiving to God.
I am saddened to hear so many now refer to the day as "Turkey Day," which only further serves to distance the mind from the notion of giving thanks to anyone for anything. I wonder how much "thanking Almighty God" takes place on Thanksgiving Day....
And the pre-Christmas shopping frenzy taken into consideration by FDR in 1939 doesn't actually need an official date to begin. I was in a store in early October and heard over the store's speakers a familiar voice singing "I'll Be Home for Christmas" as I meandered through a surreal mixture of decorations for Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. I was obviously not in Nordstrom's — take a look at this sign from their store:
I applaud what Nordstrom is doing, though I must admit that I'm almost done with my Christmas shopping.
I chuckle every time I read the following story.
There was a post office worker whose job it was to process all the mail that had illegible addresses. One day a letter came addressed in a shaky handwriting to God, with no actual address. He thought he should open it to see what it was about.
The letter read:
I am an 83-year-old widow living on a very small pension. Yesterday, someone stole my purse. It had $100 in it, which was all the money I had until my next pension check.
This next Thursday is Thanksgiving, and I have invited two of my friends over for dinner. Without that money, I have nothing to buy food with. I have no family to turn to and you are my only hope.
Can you please help me?
The postal worker was touched. He showed the letter to all the other workers. Each one dug into his or her wallet and came up with something to contribute. By the time he made the rounds of all his colleagues, he had collected $96, which they put into an envelope and sent to the woman.
The rest of the day, all the workers felt a warm glow thinking of Edna and the Thanksgiving dinner she would be able to share with her friends.
A few days after Thanksgiving another letter arrived from the same old lady, with the same shaky handwriting, addressed to God. All the workers gathered around while the letter was opened.
How can I ever thank you enough for what you did for me? Because of your gift of love, I was able to fix a glorious dinner for my friends. We had a very nice day and I told my friends of your wonderful gift. By the way, there was $4 missing. I think it must have been those dirty crooks at the post office!
With much thanks,
I chuckle, but I also wonder if my "thanks" ever looks like that to God....
This week I'll be renewing the ivman.com domain. So you will have access to all that's on my blog and my wife's blog for yet another year, should the Lord give us life and health.
If I don't post anything more this week, I hope that all you Americans will have a blessed Thanksgiving, with safe travels. We look forward to having our whole little family around our table this next Sunday. May your Thanksgiving celebration contain giving thanks to God. We have so many blessings for which to thank Him. He is so good!
"Sometimes the blessings of God are the hardest to accept when you know you deserve the opposite." - Drew Conley
With the various upcoming holidays in mind — How is it that sometimes when you hang something in your closet for a while, it shrinks two sizes? Simply amazing!
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