In this day and age when the Ten Commandments are being trashed by the radical left that now sits in judgment in our courts, when biblical morality is being discarded like old newspapers and the celebration of Christmas is being thrown out of our public schools, it’s time to reflect on the meaning of Thanksgiving Day.
Most children today think we are giving thanks to the Indians for helping the Pilgrims survive in the New England wilderness. They may be wrong, but at least it makes some sense. But I fear that a lot of people in this country can’t even think of a good reason why we should be thankful for anything. Certainly such thoughts are beyond the mental capacity of those who hate America.
The great, benign picture we all have of Thanksgiving Day is of the family gathered around the dinner table on the fourth Thursday in November, admiring a large, well-cooked turkey, ready to gorge oneself on the traditional dinner, with all the usual trimmings. Norman Rockwell’s famous picture comes easily to mind.
For most people, the holiday has everything to do with food and nothing to do with God. And there isn’t an American in 100 who could tell you the origin of the holiday. In fact, the holiday has everything to do with God, and much less to do with food.
It was George Washington who, in the first year of his presidency, issued a “National Day of Thanksgiving Proclamation” on Oct. 3, 1789. He said:
Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor – and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me “to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.”
Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the twenty-sixth day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these United States … that we then may all unite unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation – for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of His Providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted; for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed.
The entire Proclamation is much longer than the quotes we have given. And you won’t find any mention of a turkey dinner in it. However, it might not be a bad idea to have the entire Proclamation read in public on Thanksgiving Day somewhere, preferably on public television by a distinguished minister of the Gospel, or an historian, an actor, or even a politician. It should be read in school, but it’s much too religious for that. We might even persuade the head of the ACLU to read the Proclamation, and therefore come to the realization that Thanksgiving Day is a religious holiday and ought to be banned. After all, it must be unconstitutional for a holiday created by a government proclamation to also be a religious holiday.
Or maybe we ought not to tempt the ACLU. Perhaps we can call it Turkey Day and liberate the holiday from any religious significance. The holiday season is a tough time for the ACLU and its atheist followers. Wherever they go they see evidence of Christmas, they observe people singing Christmas carols, buying Christmas presents, erecting creches in public places, decorating Christmas trees with Christmas ornaments. In New York’s Rockefeller Center, a huge Christmas tree is erected for all to gaze at in awe and reflection.
What are they all celebrating and spending millions of dollars on? The Vernal Equinox? The Winter Solstice? No, they are celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ who was sent to this earth to save us from our sinful natures and to offer us forgiveness of sin, salvation, and eternal life after death. Now that’s worth celebrating.