The photo above is one of my favorite works by Norman Rockwell. His ability to capture special moments in this way is what makes his works almost identifiable on first glance. The season above and most of you now is one of Thanksgiving. Just last week I enjoyed refreshing my memory on the very first Thanksgiving. I made it a project of mine to look into this further. The evolution of Thanksgiving from then until today is a captivating story. Here are some highlights from my notes.
The lady who penned, Mary Had A Little Lamb, was actually the same woman who petitioned Abraham Lincoln to grant a day of Thanksgiving during the Civil War. This led to government recognition, with some controversy, when Franklin Delano Roosevelt was president. It appears it was for purely economical reasons too. The idea was to expand the holiday shopping season.
This day is actually a great day for Christians to spread the Gospel with family and friends. What is Thanksgiving Day about if not "giving thanks"? We give thanks to God, our Creator. What is the atheist to do on this day? To whom does he or she give thanks? Some will say, "I will thank myself for my hardwork". This is the difference. As believers, we give thanks to the Almighty Creator of the heavens and the earth. Our hands did not set the seasons nor fix the moon in the sky. We are to look outside ourselves and avoid living only in our comfort zones. We give thanks to the one Who has placed the sun and the moon in the sky and has given us seasons to enjoy. To see the changing of the leaves and the death of winter. Then to see life come back again in the Spring.
Most likely North American Indians used to do days of thanksgiving well before it was established by later European Christians. While not all men recognize their Creator a thankful, beating heart has always trodden the soil given him by his Creator. It is the duty of anyone who fears God/god. Psalm 65:2 says that all men pray. In this way we recognize a higher being than ourselves.
In fact in the Genesis account God is already receiving offerings of thanks. The story of Cain and Abel is fitting here since they were returning to God the first-fruits Giving thanks is worship, and God loves our thanks. As with the thanks of Cain and Abel however God is also concerned with our attitude. Or the subtle or hidden aspects of our soul. The spirit and attitude that God notices. Cain became angry before God. God inquired he was downcast and then God said, "If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it." God had mercy on Cain by warning him of his inner man. There is beauty in giving thanks. By giving thanks we demonstrate our free will by humbly and willingly yielding it to Him. It is impossible to serve two masters.
Giving thanks to God is profound and is in itself a powerful thing. To the gnostic, the atheist, or the unbeliever this day brings consternation. It should cry out for them to confront themselves. It is not about the Pumpkin pie (the Pilgrims didn't even have sugar. By that time their supply of sugar would have been depleted), or the Turkey. Did you know they probably ate seafood on first Thanksgiving Day? It is really all about giving thanks to God above. Thanking Him for his blessings and earnestly praying that He will continue to provide them with His sovereign hand.