Thanksgiving’s upon us, our unique North American Holiday (yes, our Canadian friends celebrate it too, but on a different day a month earlier).
Oh, I almost forgot. It’s also celebrated ( and properly so) as a national holiday in the Caribbean Republic of Grenada, every year on October 25. That’s the day American Marines liberated them from Communist jefecito Maurice Bishop and his Cuban allies back in 1983.
Its direct ancestor was the Hebrew festival of Sukkot, as William Bradford and the Pilgrims were very familiar with the Hebrew Bible, and reading both Greek and Hebrew was not uncommon among educated people who wanted to read the Bible and the New testament in their original languages. The Pilgrims regarded themselves as akin to the Jews of Exodus dwelling in the Wilderness, and William Bradford actually wrote the draft of part of the Mayflower Compact in his own handwriting…in Hebrew.
Below, a real classic; Rush Limbaugh tells the true story of Thanksgiving, one we don't often hear.
On the first Thanksgiving, the Pilgrims celebrated and thanked G-d for their survival and reportedly gave a feast, inviting the local Indian tribes as guests. The holiday has endured ever since and was made an official holiday by our first President, George Washington. Here's his original Thanksgiving proclamation, from 1789:
Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty G-d, 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 and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:”
Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable 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, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.
And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best. Given under my hand, at the city of New York, the 3d day of October, A.D. 1789.
Read those words again, slowly. Savor them. One can only imagine President Washington' feelings as he wrote this. Washington, who along with the other patriots had risked his life, his fortune and his sacred honor against all odds to create our Republic had seen its birth pangs first hand. He understood that out of the depths of despair, against all odds, a miracle had occurred at the hands of the Almighty. It was not for nothing that the Founders chose as our national motto 'In G-d We Trust.' They understood, as did Washington, that our G-d given freedom is not only a gift, but a responsibility, something for ourselves and our posterity to preserve if we wish to keep it.
Over the years, Thanksgiving has acquired a number of traditions here in America..foods like roast turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing and pumpkin pie, football on TV, travel madness for those leaving town to be with their extended families…and a feeling of thankfulness for G-d’s bounty and the closeness to our families, sometimes unexpressed but never absent.
As you celebrate, try something…no matter your circumstances, take a long moment to reflect on your blessings. Be thankful for that bountiful harvest, for your loved ones, for your friends, for the fact that we live as free men and women in a free country. And remember that this is only a reality because other men and women are willing to endure hardship and be away from their own loved ones to keep it so.
Whatever else you do, take a minute to spend some time and enjoy the feeling of being close to the people that have always been there for you, the ones you can’t leave behind, as the song says. It’s important.
And carry with you my best wishes for a wonderful Thanksgiving for you and yours.
May you be blessed…Selah.