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A Refreshing Knapp – Holiday is time of thanks (Nov. 25, 2015 issue)

The first Thanksgiving in the New World occurred with the 53 colonists (all who remained of the 100 who had landed) from the Mayflower expedition along with 90 Indian friends in the fall of 1621. It lasted for 3 days. From that day of thanksgiving at the Pilgrim’s Plymouth Plantation in Massachusetts a tradition was started that has lasted from then until now – and most likely will continue for years to come.
Like all holidays, there has been so much research done about it that you could write a book just from the research on its original date, and various other dates in between 1621 and the Thanksgiving we will celebrate tomorrow. The first Thanksgiving Day for the United States was proclaimed by President George Washington, “noting that both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested [him] to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanks-giving and prayer,’” formally declared November 26 to “be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be.”
Various dates for Thanksgiving ensued over the years until finally a date was established by the House and Senate in 1941 and signed into law by President Franklin Roosevelt as the 4th Thursday in November. Regardless of the day it falls on, I enjoy Thanksgiving; not so much for the Turkey and fixings, (as I once did) but because it is a day to give thanks.
I’m surprised that the Freedom From Religion Foundation hasn’t challenged Thanksgiving Day as discriminatory towards atheists and agnostics. Perhaps they haven’t come up with a reason convincing enough to show they are specifically harmed by it.
For the majority of Americans, Thanksgiving Day seems to start the season of giving – if you have anything to give, and if you are fortunate enough to be in that position you will find there is a lot of truth in the old saying, “’Tis better to give than receive.”
Locally, and across the nation, many churches and service organizations prepare hundreds of thousands of meals and food baskets for the homeless and less fortunate. It is no different here in our county. One of the highlights of the year for my wife and I is delivering some of the meals prepared by Ninth Street Baptist and Grace UMC on that day.
The first time we volunteered to deliver meals we returned to the church expecting some left overs to eat. There wasn’t any. We went home and had a microwave dinner. Maybe we felt more blessed because of that. Anyway we had a good laugh about ‘our’ Thanksgiving meal and it made that day all the more special-a day we won’t forget.
Of course merchants prepare all year for its arrival. Black Friday, the day following Thanksgiving, is known for “Door Buster” sales. However, to be first, merchants have backed the time to start their sales to midnight, or even on Thanksgiving Day, so that, coupled with online sales has caused somewhat of a confused mess of Black Friday. Mess, or not, merchants have a “bucket list” of things that we should be thankful for: Zero percent interest on new cars with 6 years to pay for them; furniture specials at half off normal retail prices – and the list goes on.
Though many fall for these “material things” at lower than regular prices as something to be thankful for, I think they have missed the mark entirely.
Tomorrow, I feel most citizens of these United States will take Abraham Lincoln up on the invitation of his Proclamation of Thanksgiving of October 3rd, 1863, which reads: “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.”