A Day of Thanks and Praise

By Steven J. Callis

I recently saw a cartoon that portrayed a turkey grinning at the pumpkin which had been carved into a jack-o-lantern.  With a somewhat painful look on his face, the pumpkin declared to the turkey, “Laugh all you want, but you’re next!”

Thanksgiving is still a few weeks away, but many people are already making plans for this national holiday, working out the details of what has become a tradition of family, friends, turkey dinner, parades, and football.  Family gatherings require advanced planning as some family members will travel for a few hours or more to be in attendance.  The menu must be determined, and the preparation of its entrée’s must be delegated to the various attending guests.

Some families change the gathering location from year to year, while others may have one home that most easily accommodates the crowd, or a home that is more geographically centered than the others.  There seems to be some kind of unspoken rule that the host has the privilege of preparing the turkey (and keeping the leftovers!).

Another fun part of Thanksgiving for some people is the close examination of store ads in the newspaper,  anticipating “black Friday.”  Some of the excitement about black Friday is getting up before the chickens in order to be at the store when they open their doors.  Many stores have robbed people of that excitement by opening Thursday at midnight or soon after.

Well, who should we “thank” for all of this tradition and celebration?  President Abraham Lincoln is credited with declaring the last Thursday of November as a national holiday.  History records that Secretary of State William Seward wrote the actual proclamation document.

It is further noted that magazine editor Sarah Josepha Hale wrote a letter to the president requesting such a proclamation, stating that she had been advocating for 15 years for all of the States to recognize a common national thanksgiving date. Then, of course, there are the first settlers, the Pilgrims, who celebrated with a thanksgiving feast after their first harvest in 1621.  Many people had a hand in this holiday tradition!

Thanksgiving is not an official Christian holiday, but as you make your plans for this Thanksgiving, consider the words of President Lincoln, proclaiming “a national day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.”  Let us give thanks with a grateful heart to the One from whom our blessings flow.

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