Turns Out, It's Not About the Pilgrims.

I always thought Thanksgiving was started back with the pilgrims. Embedded in my mind are construction paper cornucopias and crayon handprint turkeys that go with "Indians" and "Pilgrims" and big-buckled shoes. But, I just found out, after 43 family Thanksgivings, that this holiday didn't start with the Plymouth Rock, or the Mayflower. It started during the Civil War.

Thanksgiving was officially started by Abraham Lincoln in 1863. His proclamation to pause and be thankful was issued while our country was in the middle of the devastation of the Civil War. It was a request that our nation 'with one heart and one voice' remember God's providence and "the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy." From the past, Lincoln petitions us as a nation, to have one voice, to join in remembrance of God's character, ask for deliverance, and do it with 'humble penitence.'
And while my eldest son is traveling the world, it is fitting to mention Mr. Lincoln's words about those overseas:
"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." (The full original proclamation is posted below)
There is no mention of pilgrims in Lincoln's words; No pilgrims, no turkeys, no parades. He simply prods us to remember our God, and be thankful. Today I find that comes more easily than past holidays. This is our first Thanksgiving without Andrew. There is much providence of God in the fact that he is in Uganda. There will be no turkey on their African table. The Team had goat instead. But they are thankful, and so are we. Here is their description (from the V-Team blog: http://www.worldboundmissions.blogspot.com/).
Goat: The New "Turkey"
"For Thanksgiving, we woke up and milked cows. Gross. And later we picked a goat and slaughtered it. Francis did most of the work. He "daisy-chained" the intestines which is a method we do to our rock climbing ropes. We saw it from start to finish- the slitting of the throat, skinning,dismembering, cleaning the stomach, and cleaning it all up. Then over a bar-b-q we ate our goat. We had just named him Frederick. So we ate Frederick for lunch. For dinner on thanksgiving we ate the daisy-chained intestines too. We were very thankful, on Thanksgiving, for Frederick."
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So, today, I am also thankful for Frederick. And, for a small group of three young men, who by God's providence, are safe, and thriving. In these most uncertain times, I am thankful with one heart and voice with Andrew, Evan, and Christian for 'the gracious gift of the One High God' to His people, all over the world. We'll jump in with Mr. Lincoln's mandate to be thankful for the "bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come."
Grateful "... to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God."
~Happy Thanksgiving.
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"By the President of the United States of America.
A Proclamation.

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consiousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. 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.

Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth.
By the President: Abraham Lincoln

1 comments:

Laura Parker said...

wow--never knew that about abe lincoln. what a good reminder of the simple goodness of being thankful . . . thanks for posting. and i loved the pics from the zoo, too.