Christmas decorations began to make their appearance in some large chain stores soon after Labor Day, and in some places sooner. Halloween decorations and “Trick or Treat” candy likewise made an early appearance. But what has become of Thanksgiving?
In the mad rush to capitalize on Halloween and Christmas spending, it seems that Thanksgiving is getting overlooked. Walmart has announced that it will get a “head start” on “Black Friday” by opening at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day. (Some Walmart locations are indicating that they will open at noon on Thanksgiving!) Other businesses have indicated a similar kind of schedule.
The Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock on December 21, 1620. The following year was a hard one, with only about half of the original group on the Mayflower surviving the year. But in the fall of 1621, in company with the friendly Indians, they held a joyful three day festival.
In 1789, President George Washington issued a proclamation for a national day of Thanksgiving to be observed on November 26 in honor of the United States Constitution. However, it was not until the administration of Abraham Lincoln that Thanksgiving Day was set up to be observed every year, with Lincoln naming the last Thursday in November as the day for observance.
Franklin D. Roosevelt thought Thanksgiving was too close to Christmas, and in 1939 he issued a proclamation naming the third Thursday in November as Thanksgiving Day. In 1941, Congress, in a joint resolution, named the fourth Thursday (which is not always the last Thursday, as is the case this year) as Thanksgiving Day.
I am glad that our nation celebrates a day of Thanksgiving, but we, our children, and our grandchildren need to understand that Thanksgiving is not a day! Thanksgiving is an attitude and an action! It is an attitude of gratitude that manifests itself overtly in the giving of thanks to the One from whom all blessings flow!
The Bible is filled with admonitions for us to be thankful. Note just a few of them:
“It is good to give thanks to the Lord, and to sing praises to Your name, O most High” (Psalm 92:1).
“Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations” (Psalm 100:4-5).
“Giving thanks always for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father” (Ephesians 5:20).
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6).
“And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also you were called in one body, and be thankful” (Colossians 3:15).
Will Rogers (1879-1935), humorist, rodeo performer, actor, and author, said, “In the days of our founders, people were willing to give thanks for a mighty little, for mighty little was all they expected. But now neither government or nature can give enough but what we think it is too little. In the fall of the year, if the founders could gather in a few pumpkins, some potatoes, and some corn for the winter, they were in a thanking mood. But if we don’t gather in a new car, a new radio, a tuxedo, and some government relief, why we feel like the whole world is ‘a-gin’ us.”
As Christians may we never think of thanksgiving as simply a day on the calendar. Let us be thankful every day for our very life, for our parents and grandparents, for our spouse, for our children, for our grandchildren, for our food, for our clothing, for our home, for our means of transportation, for our health, and for all other physical and material blessings. Let us constantly remember that “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning” (James 1:17). Compared to most people in the world, the very poorest person in the United States is extremely wealthy!
As God’s children let us be thankful at all times that God is our Father, that Christ is our Savior, that the Holy Spirit is the seal of our sonship and the earnest of our eternal inheritance, that the Bible is our sole and all-sufficient guide in religion, that the church is the redeemed body of people to which we have been added and of which we are members, and that heaven is our home!
Let us not be guilty of skipping thanksgiving!
November 21, 2017