I know that you are excited about the Christmas season. But who would have ever thought that stores would be filled with Christmas decorations even before Halloween! Even the television and newspapers have put out the bait to lure the innocent buyer into their net of buying more than they can afford. Of course, people are enticed into thinking that with their “plastic” and “lay away” they can purchase anything that seems pleasant to the eyes, especially if it is a “good deal.” Well, enough of that reality.
Let me tell you just a little about Thanksgiving. In 1789, our first President, George Washington, declared that Thursday, November 26th be a day of “thanksgiving and prayer.” That’s right, Virginia, a day of PRAYER! Even though it was not declared a national holiday, it was a time for people to express thanks to God for His many blessings. In 1863, Abraham Lincoln made a proclamation that the last Thursday in November would be declared a National Holiday. It would be a day of “thanksgiving and praise.” Yes, a day of PRAISE! In 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt was pressured by stores and commercial enterprises to move Thanksgiving up so it would give shoppers more time to buy their merchandise. So FDR declared that Thanksgiving would be the next to last Thursday of November. Finally, in 1941, the Congress of the United States declared that the fourth Thursday of November would be the official day of Thanksgiving. I know I am boring you with this history lesson, but it is important to realize that there was a time when this great Country paused to give thanks to God for His many blessings and to praise Him for His faithfulness.
I am sorry to say, Virginia, that the true meaning of Thanksgiving has faded away. This once proclaimed day of prayer and praise has become a fading memory of yesteryear. Stores that once were closed have crept their hours of operation into that special day. Family gatherings around the dinner table, to consume the bounty of abundance and express thankfulness for blessings, have faded into a gluttonous buffet followed by a reclining posture in front of a TV set to watch grown men run down the field in tights carrying a bag of zipped up air. I remember when we used to go around the table and each one would express something for which they were thankful. There was a time of Bible reading, and then prayers of praise and gratitude were offered. If there was a piano, everyone would gather around and sing songs like, “Count Your Blessings,” “We Gather Together to Ask the Lord’s Blessing,” and “Come, Ye Thankful People, Come.”
The fourth Thursday of November has now become a day of preparation for the biggest shopping day of the year. Advertisements are sorted through and a “game plan” of store invasions is planned out. The green flag is then dropped and the stores are overrun with aggressive people who give no thought to others. Virginia, there was a wonderful day that was set aside to reflect upon God’s goodness. But, you know something? I don’t think it is too late to reinstate the true meaning of Thanksgiving. Why not start with your family? Ask your parents if they remember when there was a holiday for Giving Thanks. Ask them if your family could experience a real Thanks-Giving day this year!