A Tear in My Eye for the Past and Present

Upfront. Soap Box. (Not about the election!) A little long. History is involved. Definitely SOAP BOX.

I was recently talking with a twenty-two year old. We were having a conversation about making the most of the “mask” thing and having some fun with it by using different holiday themed patterns to make a some interesting masks. I said we need to get some Christmas fabric for the Christmas holiday. Then I added that we could do some with fall material, and although I do not personally celebrate halloween, they do; so I offered a spooky material. Then I mentioned that we needed Thanksgiving material also. I was completely floored and flabbergasted by the response I received. They said, “I don’t really care for Thanksgiving.” I looked at them like they were from another planet. They assured me that they liked the food part, but they didn’t care for a holiday that was based on the murders of innocent Indians. Truthfully, my mind was so blown that I just held my hand up. I could not even have that conversation.

Yes, my warm and fuzzy Thanksgiving memories surround times spent with family, friends and, of course, food. In school… back in the olden days, I suppose… we were taught about the Pilgrims and Indians and the early history surrounding this time in our nation. The timeframe of that Thanksgiving was probably some time between September and November of 1621.[1] My early childhood Thanksgiving memories were created at my grandparents house. Then as we moved away from “home,” the Thanksgiving celebrations changed to fit the place and time. Memories through the years swirl from my grandparents home, to my immediate family celebrations, to my dear Tennessee friend’s house, to travels far away with long time friends, to big extended family gatherings, to most recently, times spent with intimate family. The key to all of these celebrations is thankfulness. For my family, this thankfulness is given to God for the blessings He has allowed us to receive, the days He has allowed us to see. So hearing such a “sad” perception of Thanksgiving gave me a bit of a start.

This was not the first time I had heard this incendiary statement in recent days about the official Thanksgiving holiday that is celebrated in the United States. This disturbs me on a number of different levels.

It is incorrect. As much as the revolutionary, talking heads of today want to twist and twine history to convince a new generation that our American Thanksgiving traditions are based on something so vile and hateful, they lose to the truth.

The fact is, there have been multiple proclamations of thanksgiving through the years for many different reasons. They were given at various times and locations. Some of them were based on values and reasons that are not celebrated by the official Thanksgiving declaration. Most all of these proclamations are based on thanksgiving for bountiful harvest and favor and the good things that we have been blessed with. The particular one in question by my young friend, I would imagine, was most likely the proclamation of 1637, where Massachusetts colony governor John Winthrop declared a day of thanks-giving to celebrate colonial soldiers who had just slaughtered 700 Pequot men, women, and children… [2] This is most likely the version you will see in the radical news media that is trying to reshape our national heritage into something they desire for their own purposes.

I will not avoid it. Blood shed and war are, sadly, part of our history. Without question, the American Indians have been so badly treated, robbed of their lands, murdered and marginalized horribly. I feel this sadness personally; as the suppression of the American Indian affects my own family history. It was absolutely a bloody business. Blood shed, war and violence are not something of just the past 350-plus years. It is part of the world’s history. If you read the history of any people group conquering a new land, you will see this repeated over and over. It is not something, as others would have you believe, that the Americans pioneered. Read European history, Middle Eastern history and the histories of the Far East. As I write this blog, blood shed and violence are being embraced by this same culture that is decrying, the slightest possibility, that our nation celebrates such an act. Will this be their thanksgiving?

The first official national proclamation of Thanksgiving was given by George Washington in 1789. His proclamation was gratefulness to God for the new nation and the establishment of the Constitution. Washington shared, ‘‘[Let’s all give thanks] for His kind care and protection of the people of this country, previous to their becoming a nation … for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish Constitutions of Government for our safety and happiness and particularly the national one now lately instituted; for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed…’” [3]

The official proclamation first paragraph:

Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor– and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me 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….” [4]

Although proclaimed, this holiday was not necessarily embraced by all. After George Washington’s proclamation, at one point, the power to declare such was given to the individual states. In the years before the civil war, the various regions of our young nation were at odds over many issues. (Does that sound familiar?) But there were those that desired unity within this nation. An article written by David J Silverman for the Encyclopedia Britannica states, “While sectional tensions prevailed in the mid-19th century, the editor of the popular magazine Godey’s Lady’s Book, Sarah Josepha Hale, campaigned for a national Thanksgiving Day to promote unity. She finally won the support of President Abraham Lincoln. On October 3, 1863, during the Civil War, Lincoln proclaimed a national day of thanksgiving to be celebrated on Thursday, November 26.” [5]

In a paper published in the Journal of Historical Sociology, we see that at the time Sarah Josepha Hale was working on getting the Thanksgiving holiday established as a firm, national holiday, it was written, “In addition to representing patriotism and social solidarity, the holiday at this time was being cultivated into a domestic occasion.” This was also the time when the holiday was steered toward being a quiet occasion to spend with family. [6]

Lincoln’s proclamation of 1863 is the official Thanksgiving holiday that is celebrated by Americans. It was after this proclamation that the holiday took on a new life. It became a time of unity, thankfulness and family. Modern Thanksgiving celebrations center around being thankful, family, food, football and a multitude of new traditions. It gives people time to take stock of where they have been during the past year and look forward to, hopefully, a better year ahead. (Especially this year! Lord, please give us better times ahead!)

I think that younger generations, who have been given selective history in soundbites, believe that Americans started the tradition of giving thanks. This is not true. Actually, the USA is not the only nation to celebrate Thanksgiving nor was it the first. According to History.com there are eight other nations that celebrate similar holidays of thanks. Many of these nations celebrate Thanksgiving for the same reason that we do… thankfulness. [7]

  • Canada’s first Thanksgiving was held more than 40 years before the USA’s first Thanksgiving.  In addition, the Indians within the North American Canadian Provinces held celebrations of thankfulness before the settlers came to the new world.  
  • Germany celebrates with harvest festival of thanks called Erntedankfest.  
  • Liberia has a Thanksgiving similar to the America’s holiday. 
  • Japan’s Thanksgiving, Kinro Kansh no Ho is a holiday that grew out of an ancient rice harvest festival.   
  • Norfolk Island (in the Pacific) celebrates Thanksgiving as a day of thankfulness.  
  • Grenada, a West Indian island, has a Thanksgiving celebration honoring the restoration of peace to this nation after a coup was over thrown bringing back order to their country.
  • The Netherlands celebrates Thanksgiving to commemorate getting out from under Spanish siege. 
  • Puerto Rico, a territory of the United States, celebrates Thanksgiving in a similar fashion as the US.   

So, no, it is not all about us. Our nation, along with most of the world is in the midst of a very stressful and traumatic year. There are immense sadness, sorrows and losses to be felt. There is anxiety looking forward; but there are still blessings to be counted. We are blessed to receive a fresh new day each morning. We should attempt to go forth and make this world, and the lives of those around us, the best they can be.

Another concern for me is that this is another example of the eroding belief in the foundational traditions of our nation. This generation is being brainwashed to these ”rewritten” versions of history. For many of them, they are being blindly led to believe, if it is on the Internet, or if it is being purported from a particular sphere of society, or educational arena, or good grief, if it is on the news, “it is truth.” Truth is being butchered on a daily basis for the agendas of those that seek to destroy the good that is left in our society. It is very sad that our children, as a whole, are not being taught the true history of our land, of their heritage any longer, bloody as it is. There are those out there that want to destroy any reminders of our history, so they can rewrite it to say what they want, to match the agenda they want to push forward. (Just my opinion of what I see going on out there.)

If this is the first of my blogs that you have read, I hope you will check at least one other entry. There are not very many soap box issues in my blogs. I generally aim to put a smile on your face, a chuckle in your belly and tell you about the love of God! Plus, they are normally a quick read.

Finally, even though it is not specifically a Christian holiday, because it is a holiday that Christians embrace, I feel that this distortion of facts is yet another attempt by the evil one to destroy the foundation and true meaning of this holiday from what it actually represents to a deviated version meant to destroy the holiday… the holiday that is one of the few occasions where families make an effort to be together. One of the evil one’s main goals is to do as much as harm as possible to destroy the family unit. Sadly, the current success rate is quite high.

As Christians, (heck, as humans,) we should attempt to come together in unity and, absolutely, thanksgiving. As Americans, we are going to HAVE to find a way to come together even with our differences. The past also shows us that we have been able to come to terms with the differences that we have throughout the history of our nation. We need to get there again. We need to find a way to put our self centered agenda’s aside, relate to our brothers and sisters and come together as a nation.

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.  For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.”  Romans 12:3-8

The most, very most important thing we can share with this flailing world, is our faith in Jesus Christ. Do you know Him? Do you have that faith? I pray that you do, or that you will come to know Him and feel that strength can can only come from a relationship with Him. Jesus Christ, God’s Son, born into human flesh, sinless, crucified and giving His life freely, buried, arisen on the third day, will come into your life and change the outcome of your eternity. You just have to believe in His life, death and resurrection, come to Him and ask Him to forgive you of your sins. He will, if you truly seek Him. You will still face those uncertain situations in life, but with a foundation built on Christ, you will find a strength that can help you navigate the rough times that are ahead, a peace that is unearthly and a love that is unending.

Yes, I truly did have real tears in my eyes after the aforementioned conversation; but then I turned to the One that helps dry my tears, and I did the only thing I know to do to get sorrow out of my system. I went to my Father and put my head on His chest and felt His peace.

Happy Thanksgiving and God bless!!

______________

1 Rebecca Beatrice Brooks. (2011). History of the First Thanksgiving. History of Massachusetts Blog, https://historyofmassachusetts.org/the-first-thanksgiving/

2 Ellen Kershner. (2020). The History Of American Thanksgiving. World Atlas, https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/the-history-of-american-thanksgiving.html

3 Thanksgiving Proclamation, 3 October 1789,” Founders Online, National Archives, https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Washington/05-04-02-0091. [Original source: The Papers of George Washington, Presidential Series, vol. 4, 8 September 1789 – 15 January 1790, ed. Dorothy Twohig. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1993, pp. 131–132.]

4Thanksgiving Proclamation of 1789,” George Washington’s Mount Vernon, https://www.mountvernon.org/education/primary-sources-2/article/thanksgiving-proclamation-of-1789/

5 Thanksgiving Day,” Lifestyles & Social Issues Festivals & Holidays, Encyclopedia Britannica, https://www.britannica.com/topic/Thanksgiving-Day

6 Adamczyk, Amy. (2002). On Thanksgiving and Collective Memory: Constructing the American Tradition. Journal of Historical Sociology. 15. 343 – 365. 10.1111/1467-6443.00182, https://www.researchgate.net/publication/227926578_On_Thanksgiving_and_Collective_Memory_Constructing_the_American_Tradition

7 8 Thanksgiving Celebrations Around the World,” History Stories, History.com, https://www.history.com/news/8-thanksgiving-celebrations-around-the-world

** Scripture used in this article are from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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