Today Americans celebrate Thanksgiving. What we commonly call Thanksgiving was a harvest feast celebrated by Pilgrims in October 1621 in what is now known as Plymouth, Massachusetts. According to eye witness Edward Winslow, there were 90 Native Americans and 53 Pilgrims who attended the three-day affair. They likely did not serve turkey. The Smithsonian says they would have been feasting on wild foul, corn for bread or porridge and venison.
Thanksgiving Day is a national holiday also celebrated in Canada, some of the Caribbean islands, and Liberia. Other countries – including Germany and Japan – have festival holidays that give thanks for the blessing of the harvest.
George Washington issued the first Thanksgiving Day proclamation in the United States in 1789: “to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.”
Americans tend to do more eating than being grateful on Thanksgiving. According to the Calorie Control Council, the average American will consume between 3,000-4,500 calories at Thanksgiving dinner. That is about twice what the average daily calorie count should be. Oh well, it only comes once a year, so enjoy. In 2018, Americans have a lot to be thankful for, but here are two reasons:
First, America is still the nation that has more liberty than any country in the world. Make no mistake – liberty is under attack, but the United States still affords more personal freedom, economical opportunity and less intrusion into your personal life than any other place on the planet. That freedom isn’t there because Americans are smarter, run faster or jump higher than people in other countries; it comes completely by grace from the hand of a sovereign Creator. Americans should recognize that and be very thankful.
Second, America still has a form of government with a non-violent transfer of power. In his first Inaugural Address, President Ronald Reagan called that nothing less than a miracle. As Democrats regain control of the U.S. House, the gavel will be passed without violence. That is not the case in many countries in the world. Non-violent transfer of power is something to be thankful for. Hopefully that will continue. Candidates – in both parties – who challenge legitimate election results and claim they couldn’t have lost unless the election was rigged threaten that. Like a little kid, they want a do-over when the results are not what they want. That mentality fuels distrust and gins up their supporters. It’s akin to anarchy (no government). If Americans don’t learn to accept defeat, agree to disagree and debate policy in a civil manner, our form of government is doomed.
America is a blessed nation. Somewhere between the turkey and the pumpkin pie, humbly acknowledge that before God, and in the coming year live out thanksgiving. President Teddy Roosevelt said this: “Let us remember that, as much has been given us, much will be expected from us, and that true homage comes from the heart as well as from the lips, and shows itself in deeds.”