The year was 1621 and after a bitter winter of death and despair, the surviving Pilgrims declared a special three-day Celebration of Thanks. They were grateful to be alive and grateful for the harvest they had gathered.
After watching the first Macy's parade, they got decked out in their cool hats and the shoes with the buckles on top; they invited the Indians over (they brought the corn souffle) and gave thanks to Father God for the great harvest, and for the fact that they were actually still living and breathing to enjoy it. It was a big spread and quite a day.
After lunch, one of the Indians playfully threw one of the pumpkins at one of the Pilgrims, thus starting the annual Thanksgiving football tradition.
Well, some of my history may be a bit off, but it was the first time that the statement, "You know, I always feel like I need a nap after a big turkey dinner" was uttered.
Seriously, there is more to it than that.
Our friend Linus Van Pelt was more historically accurate and said it this way, thus proving, cartoon characters are sometimes smarter than many of today's leaders:
In the year 1621, the Pilgrims held their first Thanksgiving feast. They invited the great Indian chief Massasoit, who brought 90 of his brave Indians and a great abundance of food. Governor William Bradford and Captain Miles Standish were honored guests. Elder William Brewster, who was a minister, said a prayer that went something like this: 'We thank God for our homes and our food and our safety in a new land. We thank God for the opportunity to create a new world for freedom and justice." — Linus Van Pelt, A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving
168 years after that first get-together, George Washington, in further commemoration, strongly encouraged the people of America to specifically observe a special time of thanksgiving to God Almighty.
Then, in 1863, Abraham Lincoln delivered the national Thanksgiving Proclamation. It was now official. Thanksgiving was now capitalized! It was time for all Americans to give thanks to our God!
The president said, "No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath never the less remembered mercy .. .I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States ... to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens."
I'm just glad he got to sneak this through before the political climate and the desired anti-God, secular/socialist sentiments of today had gained a foothold in the process. Ol' Abe would have been met with derision and disdain, and would have likely been dismissed as a nut. How arrogant of him to bring his God into our harvest vacation! After all, we wouldn't want to offend the unbelievers and quite possibly bring damage to little Timmy's psyche if his class reads something from that scary Bible?
Yeah, it's now called fall break or harvest week, and our words of wisdom now come from the God-offended PC charade parade, or the latest gender-confused "famous person."
Throughout the psalms, King David had a few Thanksgiving proclamations of his own:
"Oh, give thanks unto the Lord!"
"It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord."
"I will talk with the voice of thanksgiving."
"I will praise Him and magnify Him with thanksgiving."
"Enter His gates with thanksgiving."
"I will offer up the sacrifice of thanksgiving."
Yep, King David and President Lincoln had it right.
Thanksgiving is not just a November Thursday Food/Football Day, it is the core character trait of the child of God; real gratitude, from deep in a heart that is continually cognizant of God's loving touch and His benevolence on our land and in our lives. We live that way, we walk that way.
So, after shoveling that last spoonful of sweet potato casserole, just before your easy chair coma, while waiting for the Saints to beat the Falcons, take a moment to listen, to look around, to soak in your many blessings. Then find that special quiet place to say, "Lord, I love You, I thank You. I really thank You! Not just for today, but for every day, I will never cease to give you thanks and praise."
Dear ones, stand your Thanksgiving ground and celebrate with heads high and hugs all around. Our detractors have nothing to stand on but sinking sand. Even if they want to insist on calling it a harvest holiday, just remind them, He is the Lord of the harvest! (It's in Matthew).
During this Thanksgiving time, I pray we all will continue to be moved by the stunningly simplistic sentiments of gratitude penned by a few friends, "Jesus, we just want to thank you/ Thank you for being so good." Yes, He is good. Tell Him you think so.
Thanksgiving. It's who we are. Proceed accordingly!
Michael Green is pastor with his wife, Linda, at The LifeGate (thelifegate.com) in Metairie and Mandeville, Louisiana. He is also a speaker, singer, producer and writer. Find him on Twitter (@MichaelGreen77).
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