Putting The Thanks Back In Thanksgiving

Perhaps I am wrong in my recollection of American History in saying that Thanksgiving (although it was made an official holiday by a Presidential decree in 1863 by then President Abraham Lincoln) was commemorated and celebrated by the Pilgrims in October of 1621. This commemoration and recognition makes Thanksgiving the oldest and most uniquely original American holiday. From the time of the first Thanksgiving celebration to this present day, this uniquely American holiday has gone through a gradual diminishing of significance and originality. Like most of the major holidays that we celebrate in our nation (such as Christmas, Easter, and the Fourth of July), Thanksgiving celebration has been greatly diminished and for the most part superseded by other pursuits, pleasures, and past times.
Like the Doctor Seuss story of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” there has been quite a few thieves who have been busy over the centuries since Thanksgiving observance was initiated who have superseded and stolen its place of veneration. Leading this band of thieves is commercialism. It is by far the number one instigator and influence that has pushed the true meaning of why the Pilgrims initiated the holiday of Thanksgiving into the background of insignificance. Instead of the holiday being a day of giving thanks to God for His protection and provision as the Pilgrims did, the gods of commercialism and materialism are venerated through the spending of money. My argument and opposition here is not against buying and selling that helps to keep our economy strong and thereby affords jobs for millions of people. It is the omittance and failure of most to keep thanksgiving to God as the primary reason for the holiday. Jesus said on one occasion about a certain matter when the religious leaders of His day were neglecting the more important matters of the law, like justice, mercy, and faith, and were instead prioritizing lesser important things that benefitted them, “These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone” (Matthew 23:23). This statement from the Master is very applicable to what many are doing in regard to the Thanksgiving holiday. They have literally become indifferent and very irreverent to the original meaning of this season that historically was designated to give thanks to God for His provision and protection
There are quite a few other things that people involve or engage themselves in on the Thanksgiving Day observance that either downplay this original and uniquely American holiday. We have become so engrossed in and overwhelmed by the pursuit of pleasure and entertainment that they have become the primary objective for our observance of this holiday that originally and historically was designated as a day of thanksgiving to God. Thanksgiving has become the season when most Americans hit the road, the airways, and railways en route to their favorite vacation spots. It is estimated that nearly fifty million people will be traveling on the interstate highways alone during this Thanksgiving season. Little wonder why the hotel chains, gas stations, restaurants owners, theme park operators, and other businesses look forward to Thanksgiving season. I have no complaint about these businesses capitalizing on the economic opportunities of the season. After all, they are in the business that they are in to make money. My complaint is with the millions of people who will pursue entertainment and pleasure during the Thanksgiving season and omit to give thanks to God for His provision and protection like the Pilgrims did.
The assault on the historical and spiritual significance of Thanksgiving has regrettably invaded our schools and textbooks. There is an evil attempt by some who are atheistic and oppositional to our Judeo-Christian heritage as a nation to change our history by launching an endeavor to remove any mention or reference of God from both our public schools and the history books that our children read. These revisionists are gaining momentum and support primarily because of the apathy of Christians and citizens who do not want to get involved in the school system and the political process.
Before I bring this article to a close, I want to bring your attention to another cultural and traditional obsession that has become a distraction and displacement to the real and historical meaning of the Thanksgiving observance. That which I am referring to here is the American pastime of professional football. What started out with one game that would be hosted by the Detroit Lions against the Green Bay Packers on Thanksgiving Day has evolved into three professional games. So professional football, along with a few other pursuits and pleasures that have been mentioned, are a part of the commercial and secular displacement of the spiritual and historical observance of Thanksgiving. Is it too late to recover the historical and spiritual significance of this uniquely American holiday and put it back where the Pilgrims, who initiated it, intended it to be? A day of reverencing and giving thanks to God who has truly blessed us as a nation and in the process making America the richest and most powerful nation the world has ever known. Let us put thanks back into Thanksgiving!