from Virtuous Daughters, December 2012~Volume 12, Number 9
~What is Thanksgiving really about?
For some, it’s just another holiday with lots of good food to eat. But for us as Christians, it’s more than that! It’s a day where we stop and remember all of God’s blessings to us, thanking Him for what He’s done for each one of us.
Historically, Thanksgiving days in America date back quite early. One group of English settlers who settled in Virginia appointed the date of their arrival to be an annual day of Thanksgiving. The first Thanksgiving Day in New England came nearly a year after the pilgrims arrived. After a difficult winter in which about half of the pilgrims died, the spring and summer were more hopeful. About the time of harvest, William Bradford set a time for three days of feasting and giving thanks. This became an annual “holiday” of giving thanks for plentiful crops, although no official date was set. During the Revolutionary War, different days became times of Thanksgiving as early Americans rejoiced in the victories God had given them. In 1789, George Washington appointed November 26 as a day for national Thanksgiving, but different states and a church group still had varying dates. It wasn’t until 1863, that Abraham Lincoln made the last Thursday in November the official national date. That changed again in 1939, when Franklin Roosevelt moved the date back one week. This date was eventually confirmed by Congress and made a legal American holiday.
One way our family focuses on giving God thanks has become a family tradition over the years. I don’t remember where the idea came from originally. After dinner, we bring out to small bowls, one filled with seeds large enough to be handled easily. Corn, peas, or pumpkin/squash seeds are all ones that would work. The bowls are passed around the table, and each person transfers seeds to the empty bowl as he or she names some things they are thankful for. It’s really just a tangible way to count up our blessings from God!
We also enjoy singing hymns together on the topic of thankfulness. Our favorites include “Thanks to God”; “Come Ye Thankful People, Come”; “We Gather Together”; “Now Thank We All Our God”; “Count Your Blessings”; and “Great is Thy Faithfulness.” Usually one of us will make place cards and write a Bible verse pertaining to Thankfulness on the back of each, to be read aloud sometime while we’re at the table. This makes a good project for younger children who want to be involved with your Thanksgiving preparations. They can decorate the place cards with small drawings, fall colored leaf punch-outs, etc. and practice their penmanship with writing the verses and names on the cards.
And while Thanksgiving isn’t only about the good food, that is a special part of the day! We enjoy bringing out our best dishes ands setting the table very nicely, while the smells of our Thanksgiving meal-in-progress are wafting through the house! One way to get all you can out of your turkey is to place the carcass, after the meat is removed, in a large pot and fill it with water and any herbs and seasonings you like. Bring to a boil, then simmer for awhile. Strain through a very fine strainer, then cool and freeze in freezer containers. This turkey broth will make an excellent base for turkey (or chicken) soups!
Whatever traditions each of your own families may have, let’s all remember to thank the Lord for His ever-present faithfulness and mercy in our lives!
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