As the annual holiday of Thanksgiving draws near this year, many are already making plans to celebrate with family and loved ones. After the past two years of living in the uncertainty of a pandemic, having the joy and privilege to gather together again is one of great hope and celebration. For others though, it is a painful reminder of who was lost these past few years.
Looking back on the history of these United States we can see parallels that remind us of those early days:
The celebration of Thanksgiving goes all the way back to the early pilgrims and colonists of our nation who struggled not just for freedom, but indeed for survival in trying to live in a new land. History documents that the “First Thanksgiving” was celebrated by the Pilgrims in the New World in October of 1621 after their first harvest. But that harvest came at a high cost to many who gave their lives in bid for freedom and forging a new life in a new land.
And we’re reminded of the cost of that fragile freedom with the constant struggles unfolding throughout our land today. But also, Thanksgiving is a reminder what an honor and privilege it is to have the ability to even gather together to celebrate and give thanks with loved ones.
Thanksgiving has officially been celebrated as a special day off and on since 1789, when Congress and President George Washington initiated the holiday. But it was President Abraham Lincoln, who in 1863 in the midst of the Civil War, that truly made Thanksgiving a national observance. With the proclamation he called for a day of “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.” And he called on the American people to “…fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation…”
In our present day, we’ve seen great adversity. But as Americans and as families, it is a privilege to indeed gather together to seek the Almighty and to give thanks for the many blessings we have, despite all the hardships these past few years. And it is good to give Him thanks, for we can always find blessings even in the midst of hardships.
I think the turkey, sweet potatoes, and all of “the fixings” will be all the sweeter as we consider what not only our forefathers and previous generations faced, but what we have faced as well.
I for one am exceedingly grateful and rejoice to gather with my family this year. And family makes life sweet.
Your sacrifice of praise rises to Me like sweet smelling incense and it delights My heart as you draw near to Me. There are always blessings to find if you but have the eyes to see My manifold blessings outpoured and displayed for you. Rejoice and give thanks. You are My beloved.
“Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; for His steadfast love endures forever!” (1 Chronicles 16:34)