It is estimated that Americans will consume something like 4,000 calories today.
They will watch hours of football and get ready for a major shopping experience.
But will they be thankful?
Were the Pilgrims?
Do any of us still care?
Let’s face it, the Puritan movement gets little serious attention and less respect in a culture where titillation is the national pastime.
And we have some pretty funky ideas about what Thanksgiving was all about, anyway.
We are filled with misconceptions about the holiday and its origins.
For one thing, while the members of the Plymouth Colony may have had an occasion to commemorate harvest, and while they well may have had local Indians join them, it is most likely that they were dining on venison as they usually did and they absolutely would NOT have had the ingredients for pumpkin pie, though they may have eaten the pumpkin as a squash dish.
And there were no sweet potatoes at this time.
Closer to the truth of the origin of today’s holiday would have been Thanksgiving 1863, as opposed to 1621.
It was President Abraham Lincoln who set the fourth Thursday of November as an annual Thanksgiving holiday, as his proclamation notes.
“I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.
“And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.”
It is Lincoln’s Thanksgiving that we most closely emulate in spirit, at least it is if we get it right.
All the rest came over the years — the instant whipped cream, canned pumpkin, gravy mix, turkeys with a pop-up gizmo that tells when it’s done, cooking bags to keep the roaster clean, cable TV with access to a billion football games and classic movies.
You know, all the creature comforts we love on this day.
But the spirit, well, that is purely from Lincoln: “... a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.”
Take a moment to consider Him today.
— Chuck Smith