By Rev. Ronald Breight
Thanksgiving has come a long way from its roots in that first celebration between Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Indians in 1621.
President George Washington proclaimed a National Day of Thanksgiving in 1789. That idea was again repeated by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863 when he proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day be held each November. Our present-day Thanksgiving celebration was solidified by the United States Congress in 1941 when it declared the fourth Thursday in November to be a legal holiday.
It certainly seems like a good idea to have an official day each year to give thanks to God for all we have. Far be it for us to be labeled as ungrateful folk!
Whether we actually make it to church on Thanksgiving to thank God (the preferred method) or are just thankful to God in our hearts on this religious holiday, the intent is a good one.
“Count your blessings,” my grandma always used to say. How right she was!
You may have noticed from the above dates that both President Lincoln and the U.S. Congress made their Thanksgiving proclamations during wartime. Even in difficult times there is reason to give thanks. Truthfully, giving thanks in difficult times is especially good to do as it helps us recall the many good things we still have. That makes the downside more bearable.
I encourage you to take a moment of quiet time during this Thanksgiving season and reflect on your current situation. Find the many bright spots in your life that can give you joy and comfort.
Keep them in front of you so you can enjoy them each day, and with pilgrims and presidents, proclamations and pumpkin pie, we can all give thanks to God again this holiday season.
The Rev. Ronald Breight is pastor of Christ Lutheran Church in Forest Hills.