American families celebrate Thanksgiving soon.
Every autumn, American families gather to celebrate Thanksgiving Day. Yet, it seems most have forgotten its true meaning. What is the meaning of Thanksgiving?
This year, on November 22, many Americans will congregate with relatives and friends to celebrate Thanksgiving Day. If you are the average U.S. citizen, you will enjoy a lavish dinner on this public holiday—a sumptuous smorgasbord of fruits and vegetables, roasted turkey, pumpkin pie, cranberry sauce and other delectable trimmings. Chances are you will enjoy this fabulous meal with a bevy of friends and family members in a warm, cozy home equipped with many modern conveniences. You may even watch a football game on your large plasma-screen tv. If you are an average American, you have much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving Day. But how thankful are you? Do you truly appreciate the veritable cornucopia of blessings that have been bestowed on this land?
Thanksgiving Day in History
It is commonly agreed that the first Thanksgiving Day in the United States was established by American colonists in 1621. That December, in gratitude for the ending of a particularly grueling year and for a bountiful fall harvest, Pilgrim settlers held a special thanksgiving festival near Plymouth, Massachusetts. The settlers gratefully praised God, thanking Him for this new land. They thanked Providence that they were still alive and for the food they had to eat. Every indication is that these people knew they were being given unique opportunities, blessings and responsibilities.
The thanksgiving festival soon became a popular holiday among the New England states. During the succeeding decades, several of the original 13 colonies adopted annual thanksgiving days. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, Thanksgiving Day traditionally represented “a day of religious observance, set apart to give thanks for the blessings of the past year, as well as an occasion for family reunions, bountiful dinners and festivities in the home” (1954 edition).
In 1789, U.S. President George Washington declared a national day of thanksgiving in honor of the new Constitution. But it wasn’t until the Civil War that the American peoples decided to observe Thanksgiving Day as a public holiday. Ever since President Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 Proclamation, the nation has officially celebrated an annual Thanksgiving Day in November.
How to Make Thanksgiving Meaningful
“There is nothing necessarily wrong with good food, family reunions and football games on Thanksgiving Day. But all too many use these activities wrongly and forget the purpose for the holiday. Many glut themselves with far more food than they ought to eat; few, however, stop to give God thanks for this food—even on Thanksgiving Day. Family reunions all too often turn out to be family brawls. … Millions of others push and shove one another in large crowds at football games and parades, and kill one another on the highway as they madly strive to make sure they get their fair quota of pleasure. And where is the giving of thanks in all this? In the overwhelming vast majority of the cases, it is nowhere to be found! What a travesty!”
As we observe Thanksgiving Day this year, let us take stock and consider the sheer magnificence of our national blessings. Stop and reflect on why we have so much. Remember our rich national history, and those who fought to preserve this great land. Meditate on where America is going—and understand why it will be punished by a merciful God: because its citizens refuse to repent of their evil, lawless and ungrateful ways.
An Heartfelt Thanks
Let us always give heartfelt thanks to our great Creator for the manifold blessings He has so generously bestowed upon these United States of America—and put the “thanks” back into Thanksgiving Day this year!
Hope for Children Foundation