Thursday, November 11, 2010

Giving Thanks

Giving Thanks. Yes, it's only a couple of weeks until Thanksgiving is here in the US once more. This holiday seems to get lost in a muddle of things. Christmas, shopping, football, food, family, deer hunting (here in Wisconsin) all seem to drown out the meaning of the day. We gather together, feast and watch football. Is that what the day is really about? Oh, we get the day off too. Perhaps, as this day approaches, we should take a moment and review the history behind the celebration.

We all point back to the Pilgrims in 1621, after they left Plymouth, England, on September 6, 1620. They traveled by sea for over two months. In late November the 102 passengers arrived in Massachusetts ill-prepared to brave the harsh elements that first winter, the Pilgrims prayed and began building hasty shelters. Nearly half died before spring. Yet, with firm reliance on divine intervention, and assisted by helpful Indians, they had a full harvest the following summer.

Grateful Pilgrims then declared a three-day feast, starting on December 13, 1621, to thank God and to celebrate with their Indian friends.

In 1789 George Washington issued the first official proclamation of thanksgiving for the United States of America. It would do us all well to read those words and see where the thanks was being offered.

Then, in 1863 Abraham Lincoln, "In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity," offered this proclamation of thanksgiving.

One thing I notice is that thanksgiving is about thanks. Thanks for something extraordinary and thanks to Someone extraordinary. Let's not lose that in the midst of everything else this year.