Giving “Thanks” on Thanksgiving Day & Beyond

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It brings me together with my crazy relatives, I get to eat gourmet food and drink fine wines, and it reminds me of what I have to be grateful for.

The history of Thanksgiving is not really what we were taught in third grade, but is convoluted with political twists and turns. The Pilgrims who sailed this country aboard the Mayflowerwere originally members of a Puritan religious sect called the English Separatist Church. They had fled England in the early 1600′s due to religious persecution and sailed to The Netherlands to seek refuge. They enjoyed life in Holland for a short while, but soon became intolerant of the Dutch way of life, believing it was too ungodly. After all, The Dutch Golden Age was just beginning…bad timing. It was time to set sail again, but this time they were thinking, “farther is better”.

The Pilgrims set ground at Plymouth Rock on December 11, 1620 with sparkles of hope in their eyes. Their first winter was devastating, killing 46 of the original 102 who sailed on theMayflower. But the harvest of 1621 was a bountiful one. They decided to have a feast. They invited the natives who were instrumental in their survival that first year in town. The natives came, everyone ate from their harvest and they all became pals. That is, until it became apparent to the settlers that the natives were a hindrance to their quest for more land.

The “thanksgiving” feast was not repeated the following year and did not happen again for many years. It wasn’t until June of 1676 that another day of thanksgiving was proclaimed. On June 20 of that year the governing council of Charlestown, Massachusetts, held a meeting to determine how to best express thanks for the good fortune of the community. By unanimous vote they proclaimed June 29 as a day of thanksgiving. This thanksgiving celebration did not include the “heathen natives”. The following is the proclamation of the first Thanksgiving Day celebration in 1676.

George Washington proclaimed a National Day of Thanksgiving in 1789, but some were opposed to it. There was discord among colonies, many feeling the hardships of a few pilgrims did not warrant a national holiday. And later, President Thomas Jefferson opposed the idea of having a day of thanksgiving. The following is George Washington’s proclamation on October 3, 1789. In WHAT language was he writing?

It was Sarah Josepha Hale, a magazine editor, whose efforts eventually led to what we recognize as Thanksgiving. Hale wrote many editorials championing her cause in her Boston Ladies’ Magazine, and later, in Godey’s Lady’s Book. Finally, after a 40-year campaign of writing editorials and letters to governors and presidents, Hale’s obsession became a reality when, in 1863, President Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday in November as a national day of Thanksgiving. The following is President Lincoln’s proclamation of our modern Thanksgiving Day on October 3, 1863.

Thanksgiving was proclaimed by every president after Lincoln. The date was changed a couple of times, most recently by Franklin Roosevelt, who set it up one week to the next-to-last Thursday in order to create a longer Christmas shopping season. Leave it to ole’ FDR to stimulate our capitalistic economy. Public uproar against this decision caused the president to move Thanksgiving back to its original date two years later. And in 1941, Thanksgiving was finally sanctioned by Congress as a legal holiday, as the fourth Thursday in November.

Now that you have the Reader’s Digest version of the history of Thanksgiving Day, how can you use this to your benefit? My mission in life is to make this world a better place, one person, one mommy, one organization at a time. It seems to reason that we need to learn how to use “thanks” in our lives more often and with more consistency.

We cannot receive more of what we want in life unless we are truly grateful for what we already have.

Gratitude will allow you to attract more of what you want into your life by naturally aligning your positive feelings with your desires. Gratitude toward others will cause them to respond favorably to you, making life just a little bit easier. Whenever someone does something nice for you, tell them how grateful you are for them. Tell your spouse, your children, your partner, or your parent that you love them. Mail, email, facebook, tweet or text random messages of gratitude to special people in your life for no reason other than you appreciate them. Love and gratitude are nearly synonymous terms. One automatically translates into the other without you even noticing.

Gratitude Exercise: Every morning when you wake up, before you touch your feet to the floor, name ten things that you are grateful for. While you are naming those ten things, actually feel the gratitude by visualizing each one in your mind. Feel the feelings associated with each item you are grateful for. If you are naming your children, picture your daughter’s sweet face in your mind and love her in your heart. If you are grateful for your job, visualize something about your job that you love to do, the people you work with or an aspect of the work that you are involved in. If you are grateful for your partner, picture him in your mind and love him in your heart. Smile. Radiate. Open your heart. Feel the feelings. When you do these things every day, you will start to notice that your life will improve over time. They may be subtle changes, but the changes will happen. This is like praying between the lines.

Quote for the day:

“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.”

William Ward