President George Washington created the first Thanksgiving Day issued by the national government in 1789 and again in 1795 primarily to acknowledge the providence of and thank the Almighty God. Thanksgiving in the United States was observed on various dates throughout history. From the time of the Founding Fathers until the time of Lincoln, the date Thanksgiving was observed varied from state to state.
The final Thursday in November had become the customary date in most U.S. states by the beginning of the 19th century. Thanksgiving was first celebrated on the same date by all states in 1863 by a proclamation by President Abraham Lincoln.
It was not until Dec. 26, 1941, that the unified date changed to the fourth Thursday (and not always final) in November—this time by federal legislation. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, after two years earlier offering his own proclamation to move the date earlier, with the reason of giving the country an economic boost, agreed to sign a bill into law with Congress, making Thanksgiving a national holiday on the fourth Thursday in November.
As we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving, let’s remember that the holiday’s name is a compound word— thanks and giving. Each of us has much to be thankful for—our lives, families, friendships, work and the grace of God. While there is no perfection in life, let’s admit that the glass is more than half full for most of us most of the time. Thanking those whom we love, admire, depend upon and have work relationships with is an important, but too infrequent an activity. Find the chance to say “thank you” more than a few times in the next few weeks.
As for “giving,” please consider finding ways to give back to those who are less fortunate than ourselves. Give time to a worthy cause. Us volunteering our time is an investment for the benefit of others, which builds community and creates a great example for our children.
Spectatorism is relaxing, but our community’s needs can be addressed, in part, by sharing our energy. Whether we choose to sing in a chorus, read to a toddler, mentor a youth, or visit a lonely elder, our time is a priceless gift which appreciates in value.
Have a happy Thanksgiving and God bless.