Why do they 'celebrate' Thanksgiving?

I'm visiting in the US until Saturday, so I'm experiencing all the rituals of Thanksgiving, including but not limited to overeating, a glut of football games, times with family, overeating, raking leaves, watching the Christmas decorations light up, overeating (Did I mention that already? I was too busy napping from the tryptophan overload.) So maybe those of my readers in Australia and elsewhere might want a quick lesson in the holiday.

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In 1621, the Plymouth colonists from the UK and local Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn harvest feast that is acknowledged today as one of the first Thanksgiving celebrations in the colonies which would later be called the United States of America. For more than two centuries, days of thanksgiving were celebrated by individual colonies and states. It wasn’t until 1863, in the midst of the Civil War, that President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day to be held each November.

In September 1620, a small ship called the Mayflower left Plymouth, England, carrying 102 passengers—an assortment of religious separatists seeking a new home where they could freely practice their faith and other individuals lured by the promise of prosperity and land ownership in the New World. After a treacherous and uncomfortable crossing that lasted more than two months, they dropped anchor near the tip of Cape Cod, far north of their intended destination at the mouth of the Hudson River. One month later, the Mayflower crossed Massachusetts Bay, where the Pilgrims, as they are now commonly known, began the work of establishing a village at Plymouth.

In 1623 they celebrated their 2nd such gathering, and a tradition was born. New York was the first state to make it a holiday and many others joined suit. The American south had no such intention, but later joined in. For all the date-by-date story of how Thanksgiving became a federal holiday, even related to shopping, see this website of history and for learning.

Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, is the day when retail sales put companies into the 'black' column, that is, out of the 'red' (debt) perhaps for the first time all year. Credit card sales explode and retailers are happy campers. After all it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas. And like many a Jewish salesman sings, "What a friend we have in Jesus" during this time of year.

On the day of the eating of the turkey, a parade takes place in New York City. The parade is 75 years old or so, and has been sponsored by Macy's, the great department store at 34th and 6th Avenue, in Herald Square. With marching bands, floats, and huge balloons it's a spectacular to be sure.

For others (and even those Yanks still reading this moment without the stuffing), a day to say thanks is a great idea. And not only to BE THANKFUL, which in itself is an excellent idea. Happiness expert Gretchen Rubin, also from my home town of Kansas City, said, "The nice thing about feeling grateful is that it drives away negative emotions like annoyance, resentment, or anger. I really find this to be true. I just spent some time reflecting on the vastness of what I have to be grateful for, and as a result, the usual, petty annoyances of my day have vanished."

And she's spot on. Gratefulness is Fantastic. And let me tell you one more thing, even better than being thankful.

Have an object of your thankfulness. In other words, being thankful needs to be a thank you card SENT TO SOMEONE! It can be a boss, a friend, a doctor, a neighbour, almost anyone who has done you a service or given you a product which gave you some pleasure. But WAIT< there's someone even more than this!

At the end of the day, a thanksgiving to the Almighty is appropriate. After all, the good book says, "Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow." (James 1.17) So everything we have which is defined as 'good' is from heaven, and the Owner of the Block above would like to hear those awesome words, "Thanks so much." Directed thanks makes Thanksgiving that much better.

Here in my hometown, on Thanksgiving night, they turn on the lights in the Country Club Plaza. It's always a crowd pleaser. When you give thanks to the living God, for all He has done for you, and for your country, for your family, for your situation-- a real enlightenment takes place, in you. And sometimes many will see that. Why not try that this Thursday? It could become a habit!


Bob Mendelsohn said…
Colossians chapter 3 says this, "Col. 3.15 "Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful.
Col. 3.16 Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
Col. 3.17 Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father."

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