I won’t be a stick in the mud. Enjoy your turkey. Spend time with your family. I’ll be doing likewise. I’ll be enjoying the day. I just want you to give some thought to what’s going on here.
On the orders of the government, by the King’s decree, you are counting your blessings and gathering with your loved ones. Tomorrow, many of you have been given the day off so that you can go shopping. Bang of the gavel. So be it. Thinking on it, doesn’t that make you mad? What business is it of theirs? Who are they to give that directive?
You hear about the Pilgrims and the supposed First Thanksgiving. In olden times, a Thanksgiving day was just something you did after something big happened. It was a day where you spent time with your family and gave some thought to all that was good in your life. It might be after bringing in the harvest, as it was with the Pilgrims. But it might also be after you’d completed a successful voyage. Today, someone might consider one after changing careers. It could be any day, really. It wasn’t meant to be a particular date marked on the calendar or set aside annually. It was just a time you personally chose to take a step back and appreciate all that you have.
Now in the hands of government, the tradition has been manipulated for some really evil and dubious purposes. In 1795, George Washington called a second time in his presidency for a day of national public thanksgiving and prayer. It’s been suggested that he was trying to take some of the heat off after his role in putting down the Whiskey Insurrection. After sending his army to fight off the angry mob that was railing against crippling taxes, he had showed the blatant hypocrisy of his new government, founded from a revolution that had protested the same. But sit down, count your blessings, and lets all move on. Lincoln later saw how well it had worked for Washington and followed suit. He made Thanksgiving a full on national holiday after taking soldiers off the field of Gettysburg to put down the New York City Draft Riots. People were angry to the point of violence about being conscripted into service to fight and die in an aggressive war. It was the largest civilian insurrection in the United States’ history. His popularity, never high, plummeted. So he called for a day of thanksgiving and prayer. Calm down and have some turkey. Today, it kicks off the Christmas shopping season. The date was carefully placed during the Depression to ensure a good month of shopping between it and Christmas. Here’s the day off. Go buy some stuff.
Again, I’m eating turkey today. My hope though is that you’ll give some thought to how you’re being played. Please understand and realize that you can give thanks and count your blessings whenever you feel like. Try and do it more often. Next time your kid does well in school, or the next time you finish that project at work, invite the family over. Cook something nice. Think about all you have. The King doesn’t tell you when to give thanks.