One of my favorite presidents, George Washington, was the first to set aside Thursday, Nov. 26, 1789, as a day of “public thanksgiving and prayer.” Signed by Washington on Oct. 3, 1789, and entitled “Thanksgiving Proclamation,” the decree appointed the day “to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God.” Later, on Oct. 3, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation calling for the observance of the fourth Thursday of November as this national holiday.
Throughout the centuries of our country’s existence, most Americans have consistently held the value of Thanksgiving as a true time of “acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God.” Happily, in spite of difficulties faced in my family, Thanksgiving has always come together and produced some fairly significant memories. I believe most families probably offer some similar feelings concerning the importance of the value of family and the joy of being together – in spite of the personal and individual “extenuating circumstances.”
It’s interesting to note that in 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt moved the holiday to the third Thursday of November (to extend the Christmas shopping season and boost the economy).
After a storm of protest, Roosevelt changed the holiday again in 1941 to the fourth Thursday in November, where it stands today.
I sure pray for a return to that kind of support again in our day. Consumerism and commercialism appear to be grabbing our attention more and more. I hope you have a great day of giving thanks and that in your thoughts you remember to offer gratitude to God!
Happy Thanksgiving, everybody! Enjoy your pie … and I’ll see you at Sunday Mass!