Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

I’m a little long winded today but it’s the holiday edition.  Wishing you all a happy Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving means different things to each of us even while meaning the same things to many of us.  For most it’s a day of family; a time for the entire family to get together in one place to celebrate the good things in our lives.  It’s also a day of good food, parades and football, and an afternoon nap brought on by gluttony.  All in all it’s normally a happy and peaceful day for most people.
The day Americans call the first Thanksgiving was was celebrated to give thanks to God for helping the Pilgrims of Plymouth Colony survive their first brutal winter in New England.  The first Thanksgiving feast lasted three days, providing enough food for 53 pilgrims and 90 Native Americans.  The feast included many different types of food including wild game and fowl, seafood, fruits, grains and vegetables.
Contrary to what some people would have us believe, the American founders were God fearing men who looked to the Lord for guidance and direction while forming, developing andleading this nation in its early years.  This is evidenced by the First National Proclamation of Thanksgiving given by the Continental Congress in 1777:

“FOR AS MUCH as it is the indispensable Duty of all Men to adore the superintending Providence of Almighty God; to acknowledge with Gratitude their Obligation to him for Benefits received, and to implore such farther Blessings as they stand in Need of: And it having pleased him in his abundant Mercy, not only to continue to us the innumerable Bounties of his common Providence; but also to smile upon us in the Prosecution of a just and necessary War, for the Defense and Establishment of our unalienable Rights and Liberties; particularly in that he hath been pleased, in so great a Measure, to prosper the Means used for the Support of our Troops, and to crown our Arms with most signal success:

It is therefore recommended to the legislative or executive Powers of these UNITED STATES to set apart THURSDAY, the eighteenth Day of December next, for SOLEMN THANKSGIVING and PRAISE: That at one Time and with one Voice, the good People may express the grateful Feelings of their Hearts, and consecrate themselves to the Service of their Divine Benefactor; and that, together with their sincere Acknowledgments and Offerings, they may join the penitent Confession of their manifold Sins, whereby they had forfeited every Favor; and their humble and earnest Supplication that it may please GOD through the Merits of JESUS CHRIST, mercifully to forgive and blot them out of Remembrance; That it may please him graciously to afford his Blessing on the Governments of these States respectively, and prosper the public Council of the whole: To inspire our Commanders, both by Land and Sea, and all under them, with that Wisdom and Fortitude which may render them fit Instruments, under the Providence of Almighty GOD, to secure for these United States, the greatest of all human Blessings, INDEPENDENCE and PEACE: That it may please him, to prosper the Trade and Manufactures of the People, and the Labor of the Husbandman, that our Land may yield its Increase: To take Schools and Seminaries of Education, so necessary for cultivating the Principles of true Liberty, Virtue and Piety, under his nurturing Hand; and to prosper the Means of Religion, for the promotion and enlargement of that Kingdom, which consisteth "in Righteousness, Peace and Joy in the Holy Ghost.

And it is further recommended, That servile Labor, and such Recreation, as, though at other Times innocent, may be unbecoming the Purpose of this Appointment, be omitted on so solemn an Occasion.”

There were many days of thanksgiving declared over the next 80+ years but it was Abraham Lincoln who finally made Thanksgiving a national holiday in 1863.  President Lincoln declared:

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 the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle, or the ship; the axe had enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years, with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and voice by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union. In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand, and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed. Done at the city of Washington, this third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the independence of the United States the eighty-eighth." Proclamation of President Abraham Lincoln, October 3, 1863.”

Since 1863, Thanksgiving has been observed annually in the United States.
Even though I can’t always make it home for Thanksgiving, for me it is a time of reflection and thanks for the life I’ve had so far and the life I have today.  There have been a few things in my life that I would change if I could but all in all, my life has been interesting, exciting and happy.  I’ve had a few very difficult times which I thought I may not survive but God and my wonderful family and friends helped get me through them and focus on the positive things instead.  I thank Him for each and every one of them.

This year I am thankful for my wonderful wife Barrie; the woman I get to spend each and every day with and whose presence in my life has made me extremely happy.  God truly has blessed me with a wonderful spouse, partner and companion. 

I am thankful for each day my father is still here on Earth.  His life as a minister was in inspiration in itself but his life since he suffered strokes and heart attacks ten years ago has been even more inspirational.  He has never lost his love for life, his sense of humor or his smile, even in the face of increasing physical disabilities.  He’s amazing to watch.

A few years ago my sister said “I don’t understand why God is taking him one piece at a time.”  Last week she answered her own question.  She said “Dad still touches lives each and every day with his humor and his attitude, especially given his situation.  That’s why he’s still here.”  I have to agree.

I’m grateful to each and every person who has touched my life and made me who I am today.  I’ve literally met thousands of people throughout my life and many have given me something that I took with me.  I thank you all for your contributions and hope I did you proud.

To each and every one of you I say “Have a very happy and blessed Thanksgiving, full of love and joy.  And thank you all for being a part of my life.”

*Historical documents borrowed from

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