But that is the time to be careful! Beware that in your plenty you do not forget the LORD your God... (Deuteronomy 8:11)
This week, most Americans will feast on turkey and pumpkin pie, but many of them will not give a second thought to the history of Thanksgiving or what this great holiday symbolizes.
In my opinion, its a crying shame that Thanksgiving doesnt get the respect it deserves. Part of the problem comes from our focus on materialism. In order to sell more merchandise, some stores start displaying Christmas items as early as October. By November, Christmas decorations are up and the fight for the shoppers Christmas dollars begins in earnest. Thanksgiving becomes nothing more than excuse to eat a big meal, watch football on television, and take a trip to the mall. Isnt it time we focused more attention on giving thanks and less on buying gifts and over eating?
Most of us remember at least some of our school lessons about how the Pilgrims and the Indians celebrated the first Thanksgiving. But do you remember why they were celebrating? It certainly wasnt because life had been easy. The first winter the Pilgrims spent in America was devastating. By the beginning of the fall of 1621, they had lost 46 of the original 102 people who had sailed on the Mayflower. I imagine there were many families whose hearts were heavy at that first celebration as they remembered those loved ones who had perished.
After the first Thanksgiving the holiday was celebrated on a rather haphazard basis. It was until a lady by the name of Sarah Hale took up the cause that Thanksgiving became an established holiday. Sarah was a magazine editor and she wrote many editorials championing her cause. Finally, after a 40-year campaign of writing editorials and letters to governors and presidents, Hales obsession became a reality when, in 1863, President Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday in November as a national day of Thanksgiving. In 1941, Thanksgiving was finally sanctioned by Congress as a legal holiday to be celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November.
While the Thanksgiving holiday began with the Pilgrims and Indians in the 1600s, it was based on the Christian principle of giving thanks to God for the many blessings He pours out on us. All through the Bible, we can find example after example of Gods people giving thanks. In the Old Testament they built altars and offered sacrifices. In the New Testament, they offered prayers. Maybe we should take a not so subtle hint from them, and give thanks on Thanksgiving!
This Thanksgiving why not slow down and savor the moment? Forget about the big sale at the mall and turn the television off for awhile. Spend some quiet time with your loved ones. Really think about what this day means to you and to those before you in history. When you pray, also remember our great nation in your prayers. Remember those who lived and died to defend our freedom, and those who are still doing so today.
Thanksgiving offers a wonderful opportunity to share our hearts, our food, our time, and prayers with others. However,it shouldnt begin or end on the fourth Thursday of November. It should continue all year long.
Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice. Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. (Philippians 4:4)
© 2002, Teresa Bell Kindred. Used by permission.
Title: "Giving Thanks"
Author: Teresa Bell Kindred
Publication Date: November 26, 2002