In November 1621, William Bradford organized a three day festival of thanks for the Pilgrims’ first successful corn harvest and invited the Wampanoag Indians to join them. The second thanksgiving celebration was held in 1623 to celebrate the end of a long draught. Eventually, days of fasting and thanksgiving became annual traditions for other settlements. By 1798, George Washington issued the first Thanksgiving proclamation by the national government of the United States. John Adams and James Madison followed suit in their presidencies. In 1817, New York became the first state to officially declare a Thanksgiving Holiday. In 1863, at the height of the Civil War, President Lincoln scheduled Thanksgiving for the final Thursday in November.
Today it has become synonymous with turkey, enjoying time with family, watching football, and excessive shopping. But the heart of the Holiday still rings true. We do have a lot to be thankful for in this country.
Our blessings are something we shouldn’t take for granted. It’s good to take a day and think about what we are thankful for. Maybe some of us will even go around the table at our Thanksgiving dinner and say something we’re thankful for out loud. But how do we keep that attitude of gratitude going after the turkey gets put away?
Try this: make a list. Write it down so you can remind yourself later. Then, every day, add one thing you are thankful for that day. Do this a few days and you’ll begin to notice even more things to be thankful for. That’s how Thanksgiving can become “thanksliving.”
I’ve seen it work.
I have a friend, Jessie, who made it her New Year’s resolution to be thankful for one thing every day for an entire year. She did it through her Facebook posts by thanking someone publicly each day or naming something she was thankful for that day. I took on the project for Lent that year and I have to say – it was very meaningful to me.
They say it takes 21 days for something to become a habit. I tried it for 40 and it completely changed my perspective. And I’ve been more appreciative ever since.
To take it to a whole new level, model thanksliving for your kids and they’ll catch on too. “I’m thankful for this green light.” Or, “I’m thankful I found my keys.” Little things like that. Next thing you know, they might be thankful for their bowl of cereal or their favorite song on the radio.
Tim Tebow said it well, “I’m just thankful for everything, all the blessings in my life, [and I’m] trying to stay that way. I think that’s the best way to start your day and finish your day. It keeps everything in perspective.”