It’s probably a bit cliche to write about gratitude during this week, but after reading further about the history of this national holiday, it seemed imperative, at least for a moment or two, to contemplate the idea of gratitude.
My first Thanksgiving history lesson came from one of my favorite teachers, Linus.
Yes in 1621, a three day celebration of thanks was held. Another followed in 1623. For the next 160 years, annual days of thanksgiving were held in the New England states fairly regularly, and in 1789, on the heels of victory in the Revolutionary War, George Washington issued the first United States Proclamation of Thanksgiving.
In 1827, writer Sarah Josepha Hale launched a campaign to make Thanksgiving a national holiday. After a thirty six year effort, which included sending numerous letters to governors, senators, presidents, and probably anyone else who might have some pull, in 1863, Abraham Lincoln heeded her request, proclaiming a national day of thanks. In his Thanksgiving Proclamation he stated,
“The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God.”
In my mind, if Abraham Lincoln could feel and express those words, even during the unsettling era of the Civil War, then I should most definitely follow suit, since my current situation seems a lot less grave than his. Besides, I have heard it said that nothing is more honorable than a grateful heart!