The Holiday Season (November 2018)
It is now "The Holiday Season" with Thanksgiving coming on the 22nd. Traditionally we see a Thanksgiving scene with Pilgrims and Indians together sharing a harvest feast of fruits and vegetables, meat and fish, and baked pies and goodies, children playing, adults dressed in their Pilgrim attire and Indians in their best native costumes. However, most of these scenes come from drawings and paintings done by artists a long time after the first Thanksgivings. Also, most historical records usually are written by the winners and the winners were not always the good guys. I'm not going to go too far into the "documented" history of Thanksgiving but I'm going into the "meaning" of Thanksgiving.
The word Thanksgiving is self-defining "giving thanks" but thanks for what and to who? The first "official " Thanksgiving is dated 1621 about a year after the Mayflower Pilgrims landed in Massachusetts. This Thanksgiving lasted about 3 days celebrating their first harvest and survival. However, there were many similar celebrations in the late 1500s and earlier 1600s up and down the east coast for basically the same reasons of landing safely from a long voyage and surviving the harsh environment.
Since most of the early immigrants came here for some form of religious freedom they already had strong beliefs in "The Almighty God". As such their Thanksgiving was giving thanks to God for "all they had". These celebrations lasted on and off through the years and during the Revolutionary War Congress (who believed in God) appointed one or more Thanksgiving Days a year. The Continental-Confederation Congress, the legislative body that governed the United States from 1774 to 1789, issued several "national days of prayer, humiliation, and thanksgiving", a practice that was continued by presidents Washington and Adams under the Constitution. Yes God was that important to them. During president Jefferson's days Thanksgiving kind of fell off a bit with no official Thanksgiving Proclamations until president James Madison after the War of 1812. Then Abraham Lincoln declared a national Thanksgiving Day as the last Thursday in November of 1863. In the middle of the Civil War the Secretary of State William H Seaward wrote a document concerning giving thanks to God that I would strongly suggest reading. The following is quoted from the first line, "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." (Wikipedia, Thanksgiving [United States])
As you can see from the beginning of this country our forefathers were firm believers in God regardless of their particular church or religion. Their Christian values and beliefs were important enough to them to include them in the government, laws, and the Constitution. This should be an example as to who we give thanks to and why. Thanksgiving is a Holiday based on thanking God for all we have. Let us all remember that this Holiday Season is not just a few days off to party and watch football, shop and go into deeper debt, it's to give thanks for all we have and a free country to enjoy all we have.