Thanksgiving, which began with a religious focus, is an interesting holiday. It is one of the few major holidays (the Fourth of July may be the other one) that most Americans can truly agree to celebrate.
Christmas and Easter are the major holidays, of course, for Christians. Many non-Christians observe these holidays, but from a secular standpoint.
As I was doing a “Google” search (the greatest invention ever for speakers and writers) on Thanksgiving, I discovered how much I really didn’t know about the holiday we will celebrate on Thursday (Nov. 28) of this week.
Of course, we all know the story of the Pilgrims and the Indians in Plymouth when the first recognized Thanksgiving celebration was held in 1621.
History.com has some good material on Thanksgiving, including a “fact or fiction” section.
Two items of fiction that many Americans believe to be “fact” are:
(1) In 1863, Abraham Lincoln became the first American president to proclaim a national day of Thanksgiving when he designated the last Thursday of November as a national day of Thanksgiving. While many Americans think this is true, actually it is not. He did proclaim it but he was the fourth president to do so. George Washington, John Adams, and James Madison also issued similar proclamations during their presidencies though not necessarily in November, according to history.com.
(2) Thanksgiving is held on the final Thursday of November each year. Not so. It was true from 1863 when Lincoln issued the proclamation but it was changed in 1939 after a request from the National Retail Dry Goods Association. And we thought the commercialization around Thanksgiving was only a recent development. Anyway, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued a decree that it would always be the fourth Thursday and never the occasional fifth Thursday of the month. Some things never change. It took two years for Congress to finally agree and pass a resolution establishing the fourth Thursday as the official Thanksgiving holiday.
Two other interesting tidbits related to Thanksgiving you may or may not know, thanks to -history.com.
Founding father Benjamin Franklin was a strong advocate of making the wild turkey the national bird of the United States instead of the bald eagle.
And, did you know that the author of “Mary Had a Little Lamb” had a role in helping to get Thanksgiving proclaimed as a national holiday?
In 1827, according to history.-com, Sarah Josepha Hale, a noted editor and writer, launched a massive campaign to establish Thanksgiving as a national holiday. Finally, her efforts paid off in 1863 when President Lincoln proclaimed Thanksgiving as a national holiday.
While those are interesting bits of trivia about our national day of Thanksgiving, Christians should take “thanksgiving” even farther.
For Christians, every day should be a day of thanksgiving to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
On page one of this issue is an article on prayer which features Memphis-area pastor Steve Gaines. Gaines led a breakout session on prayer during the annual meeting of the Tennessee Baptist Convention held earlier this month in Chattanooga.
Gaines made a statement that struck a chord with me.
He said, “When you don’t know how to pray, just thank God for what He has done for you in the last 24 or 48 hours.”
Truer words have never been spoken.
Sometimes we tend to complicate prayer. We don’t always have to find the “right” words or phrases. We just need to speak to God from our heart, thanking Him for the countless blessings He gives us each and every day, whether we even realize it or not.
I hope everyone in the B&R family has a blessed Thanksgiving Day, but remember to give thanks to God every day.