When you think of Thanksgiving, what comes to mind? Watching the Macy’s Day parade, eating a very large meal with all the trimmings and watching football with family and friends? Black Friday and the kickoff of the Christmas season?
The original Thanksgiving had nothing to do with any of these things. Thanks to my children’s school, we understood the true meaning of the holiday. Every Thanksgiving, the kids had what was called, Plymouth Plantation Day. They dressed like Pilgrims and Native Americans. We cooked the food of the original Thanksgiving meal for a school feast. It included such delights as eel and squirrel. Honestly, not much of that original food was eaten! Some moms brought turkey in a roaster so we could actually enjoy the feast!
We did Colonial crafts and a play of the Plymouth colony when Governor William Bradford declared a day of thanksgiving to God for surviving the bitter winter and reaping an abundant harvest (1621). Both Pilgrims and Native Americans feasted together. The children learned that the holiday began by giving thanks to our Creator!
Over the years, the meaning of Thanksgiving has shifted several times. It has been about gratitude, gatherings of unity, retelling of history and moments of victory and struggles. However, the origins are about giving thanks to God for provisions and blessings. And that is something we need to maintain in our time of celebration.
Biblically, we see that thanksgiving is associated with adoration, praise, an offering, or sacrifice. We find ourselves giving thanks for what God has done and who He is no matter the day. As the Pilgrims noted, God is faithful and gives abundantly to his children. Thanksgiving comes from a grateful heart to the One who has given so much and continues to bless His children.
This Thanksgiving, enjoy the meal, watch the parade and football but give thanks…and if you need a little help, here are a few versus from the Psalms:
“Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto Him with psalms” (95:2).
“Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise: be thankful unto Him, and bless His name” (100:4).
“O give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good: for His mercy endures forever…Oh that men would praise the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men! For He satisfies the longing soul, and fills the hungry soul with goodness” (107:1, 8-9).
Let’s praise Him this Thanksgiving and then continue this practice throughout the year!