"I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States...to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November as a day of Thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father Who dwelleth in the heavens."
Excerpt from the Thanksgiving Proclamation, October 3, 1863
The above words are what led to our national day of Thanksgiving that we'll be observing in a few days. And yes, now I am thinking about making Thanksgiving dinner. But Thanksgiving has not always been about meals of turkey, stuffing, potatoes, cranberries, and pumpkin pie.
Days of thanksgiving have been declared and set aside throughout history, even in Biblical times. In America, back in 1621 when the Pilgrims invited Indian guests and held their first feast, the word thanksgiving was more about prayer, gratefulness, and gratitude than about food. But historians say 1621 was not the first time of thanksgiving in our country, even though it's the one we teach and learn about in school. In the late 1500s when Spanish colonists landed in present day Florida and present day Texas, they prayed and feasted. In 1619 when British colonists landed in Virginia, they were under strict orders from the London Company about what to do: "We ordaine that the day of our ships arrival...shall be yearly and perpetually kept holy as a day of thanksgiving to Almighty God." In the late 1700s, the Continental Congress declared a day of thanksgiving to celebrate victory over the British in 1777. Later President George Washington declared November 26, 1789 as a Thanksgiving holiday intended for public thanksgiving and prayer, but only for that year. And that's possibly just a sampling of times when thanks and gratitude were expressed before Lincoln's proclamation.
So as we approach this Thanksgiving, I plan to continue focusing on having an attitude of gratitude, reminding myself about being thankful and grateful, and counting my blessings. And once November comes to a close, I'm going to deliberately and intentionally strive to give thanks in everything.
I'd love to hear what you're thankful for today.
Already I am grateful that on Black Friday I will not be shopping anywhere! But I do intend to patronize shops in my area on Small Business Saturday.
"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend." ~ Melodie Beattie
My American Heritage Dictionary defines gratitude as "the state of being grateful; thankfulness." Synonyms offered in Roget's Thesaurus include: thankfulness, thanks, gratefulness, appreciation, and thanksgiving.
Even as a retired elementary teacher, when one month is ending and charging toward the next, I'm already thinking ahead. November just began and visions of thanksgiving are dancing in my head. However, I am not thinking about Thanksgiving dinner yet. What I am thinking about is gratitude and being thankful, i.e., thanksgiving.
In October I signed up for "The Gratitude Challenge" happening during November. I even invited a few friends to join me. And if you're interested, send me a message and I'll get the details to you.
In today's world, a day, an hour, and sometimes even a minute doesn't go by without some news or reports of a tragedy, catastrophe, chaos, threat, or disappointment. These situations can be pervasive or global to very personal.
So in November, I'm choosing to focus on gratitude and thanksgiving. Albert Schweitzer said, "The greatest thing is to give thanks for everything." I'm keeping a list.
What was first on my list on November 1st? I thanked my husband for jumping right in and taking over a clerical task I proposed to simplify some record-keeping. I assumed I would be the one implementing it. He said, "That's a great idea!" And then he spent a few hours working on it. I am grateful!