A manly Thanksgiving. Intro
Thanksgiving is quickly approaching and so is the end of the year. For the month of November, I will be writing a series on how men, in their roles as husbands and fathers should promote and celebrate Thanksgiving.
First, it’s important to understand why Americans celebrate Thanksgiving Day? For many Americans, Thanksgiving is just a great opportunity to get out of school for a long weekend and eat a great dinner. Others think it’s the start of the Christmas holiday season.
But the reality is quite different. It’s important to understand that historically, this is an American Christian tradition which dates back to 1623. After the harvest crops were gathered in November 1623, Governor William Bradford of the 1620 Pilgrim Colony, “Plymouth Plantation” in Plymouth, Massachusetts proclaimed:
“All ye Pilgrims with your wives and little ones, do gather at the Meeting House, on the hill… there to listen to the pastor, and render Thanksgiving to the Almighty God for all His blessings.”
And this is how our annual Thanksgiving day celebration came to be. The actual day to celebrate Thanksgiving has changed throughout the years.
On November 1, 1777, by order of Congress, the first National Thanksgiving Proclamation was proclaimed, and signed by Henry Laurens, President of Continental Congress. The third Thursday of December, 1777 was thus officially set aside:
“…for solemn thanksgiving and praise. That with one heart and one voice the good people may express the grateful feelings of their hearts, and consecrate themselves to the service of their Divine Benefactor;… and their humble and earnest supplication that it may please God, through the merits of Jesus Christ, mercifully to forgive and blot them (their manifold sins) out of remembrance… That it may please Him… 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 of ‘righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost’…”
Then again, on January 1, 1795, our first United States President, George Washington, wrote his famed National Thanksgiving Proclamation, in which he says that it is…
“…our duty as a people, with devout reverence and affectionate gratitude, to acknowledge our many and great obligations to Almighty God, and to implore Him to continue is… our duty as a people, with devout reverence and affectionate gratitude, to acknowledge our many and great obligations to Almighty God, and to implore Him to continue and confirm the blessings we experienced…”
Thursday, the 19th day of February, 1795 was thus set aside by George Washington as a National Day of Thanksgiving.
Many years later, on October 3, 1863, Abraham Lincoln proclaimed, by Act of Congress, an annual National Day of Thanksgiving “on the last Thursday of November, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens.” In this Thanksgiving proclamation, our 16th President says that it is…
“…announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations are blessed whose God is the Lord… But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we have vainly imagined, by the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own… It has seemed to me fit and proper that God should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and one voice, by the whole American people…”
So it is that on Thanksgiving Day each year, Americans give thanks to Almighty God for all His blessings and mercies toward us throughout the year. It is your God-given responsibility as a man, especially if you have children, to teach these things to your family. Fathers must have a renewed sense of purpose when these times approach. It is so easy to get involved in all the business of the season and get stressed out over the financial burden which this season seems to bring to so many families. Nevertheless, if we understand the reason why we observe this holiday , we shall not lose focus of the fact that it is God who blesses us. Then, we too shall be vessels of blessings to others. Teach this to you children! Make Thanksgiving about blessing others and giving thanks for the blessings we have so gracefully obtained from our God. The next ten posts will be all about how to do this. Don’t miss this series on Thanksgiving.
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