I was lying in bed this morning – because I could – and my brain wandered into Thanksgiving territory. I enjoyed it, so I decided to write it down.
Why? Because Thanksgiving is remarkable. It deserves our respect for its sheer resiliency. It has been around for 401 years. (The first recorded thanksgiving celebration was in. 1621.) (link) It was one of the first Federal holidays, along with Christmas, New Years and Independence Day in 1880. (link)
While the first Thanksgiving feast was more of a “harvest feast,” it didn’t take very long for it to become a religious holiday. Two years later, in 1623 it got religious – real fast:
“The Pilgrims’ first recorded religious day of thanksgiving was held in 1623. Plymouth had been stricken with a severe drought. “Upon which,” said William Bradford, “they set apart a solemn day of humiliation, to seek the Lord by humble and fervent prayer, in this great distress.” That same evening it began “to rain with such sweet and gentle showers as gave them cause of rejoicing and blessing God… For which mercy, in time convenient, they also set apart a day of thanksgiving.” (link)
Imagine that – people turning to God during a drought! Crazy!
I’m not all that surprised by the original of Thanksgiving, but I am surprised that Thanksgiving still exists. 401 years later and it is still going strong.
It is remarkable that a holiday based in gratitude, and tightly wrapped with family and religious implication survives. I would think that it would be a casualty of our culture’s push to cancel such things. Not only is it still around, it is still a big deal.
Thanksgiving still has the power to shut down much of our country. Lots of places are closed, and it is the excuse for a four-day weekend for many.
AAA estimates that 55 million people will be traveling this weekend. (link) The overwhelming majority consists of people traveling to join their families in celebration.
Thanksgiving still has a lot of clout – in spite of a lot of the societal pressure against its underpinnings of Family and God. It survives against other pressures as well:
The quest for the mighty dollar has taken a bite out of Thanksgiving. I remember that it wasn’t that long ago that people were aghast that grocery stores and Walmart would be so crass as to be open on Thanksgiving day.
Some try to diminish the importance and even existence of the holiday through ignorant application of presentism and the gospel of non-religion. Those evil Pilgrims, amiright?
Society has been hell-bent (literally) on tearing down the importance of family as the fundamental building block of our society.
Some only appreciate the gluttonous aspect of a day filled with good foods and even better desserts.
Some pour cold water on the celebration by focusing mostly on Thanksgiving day sports.
Some give Thanksgiving short-shrift because they have already mentally moved on to Christmas. (The associated commercialism has been in full swing for months already.) Some just hate tradition: If it’s old, it needs to go away.
Yet here we are, celebrating Thanksgiving yet again. Spending time with our families, and feeling gratitude towards God. It flies in the face of where our culture seems to be headed. Thanksgiving has had amazing staying power, and frankly, I’m surprised that the adversary has not done a better job of dismantling it.
People are gonna do what people are gonna do, but I am thankful that Thanksgiving is still a thing, and still a thing at an exceptionally hight level of participation. Most of the nation is celebrating Thanksgiving today, and most of the nation is going to be a little more grateful for what they have than on any normal day of the year.
And that is a good thing.
Anytime we, as a people, can show more gratitude, and bind ourselves together as families, it is desirable. It is good for the soul of our nation, and the souls of each one of us.
I’m thankful for Thanksgiving. I am also thankful for its staying power. I love that today is still a day to reflect on our blessings and spend time with our families. It seems downright counter-culture. I consider it a win.
I am blessed. SO blessed. Like freaking amazingly blessed.
I am also thankful to you, my wise, witty and attractive readers.
I am also thankful for the terrific response to my new Christmas book. Thanks!