Thanksgiving is kind of a unique holiday. Most holidays involve cute little characters and the giving of gifts or goodies. While there is nothing wrong with any of that it is so nice to be able to have a holiday where instead of worrying about what to buy and give to so-and-so we can simply be glad for the many wonderful things we already have. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. When I think of Thanksgiving I remember warm embraces, cherished memories of family, and of course lots of comfort food. However, I truly love Thanksgiving because it gives us a season to keep a remembrance of all the things we are grateful for.
As we talked together this week our conversation naturally turned towards Thanksgiving and our plans for the holiday. This led to further discussion of our feelings of gratitude for Thanksgiving, the gospel, and all that we are blessed with. Eventually we began discussing a topic that we would like to share with all of you.
There seems to be a little bit of a hullabaloo involving Abraham Lincoln. This shouldn’t come as any surprise considering Abraham Lincoln is the most read about President ever and there are more books written about him than anyone else. However, not many people are aware that Abraham Lincoln was responsible for making Thanksgiving a national holiday. Although Thanksgiving had been recognized since the "First Thanksgiving" it was never celebrated consistently
After the victories at Gettysburg and Vicksburg, Lincoln received a letter from Sara Josepha Hale, the editor of Lady's Book, in which she suggested to Lincoln that he set up a national celebration of Thanksgiving. Lincoln truly felt that there was reason for giving thanks, and agreed.
"That first Thanksgiving Proclamation neither asked people to assemble in their customary places of worship nor called them to prayer as Protestants, Catholics, or Jews. Rather it called all Americans to gather as members of one common family to give thanks. They were to assemble on the third Thursday of November in any secular building they should choose." quoted from "Abraham Lincoln A Man of Faith and Courage" by Joe Wheeler
President Lincoln acknowledged that all things come from God and was grateful for it, as such he recognized the need to gather together “under God.” In 1861, after suffering defeats at Fort Sumter, and the Battle of Bull Run, Abraham Lincoln called for a Day of National Prayer. He chose to set it for the last Thursday in November, deciding on Thursday because it would not interfere with any existing holy days observed by American churches. Lincoln called for national prayer a total of nine times, and was preparing to call for another when he was killed. Part of his announcement for the Day of National Prayer reads:
"And whereas when our beloved country, once, by the blessing of God, united, prosperous, and happy, is now afflicted with factions and civil war, it is peculiarly fit for us to recognize the hand of God in this terrible visitation, and in sorrowful remembrance of our own faults and crimes as a nation and as individuals, to humble ourselves before Him, and to pray for His mercy."
We are both grateful that Abraham Lincoln was spiritually in touch with God and that he was not afraid to act on his feelings. May we have the courage to do the same.
Just for kicks I asked my girls to tell me some of the things they are grateful for.
Bug: I'm thanksful for my family, a sister, that I have so many things that I can do, that I can go to Kindergarten, Maverick (our dog), for my piggy bank, that it can be Thanksgiving.
Bear: I'm "fankful" for being able to play with my grandpa, my Puppy, to play with my sister, that I can play with Mommy, for stringy noodles (Top Ramen), and my best friend.
Happy Thanksgiving to all of you!