I love the Fall! It is one of the most inspirational times of year when the leaves change color and the air feels crisp and fresh. We are experiencing a beautiful Fall this year in Oklahoma and it has really helped me feel in the spirit of Thanksgiving; and how it all began! Just three things I wanted to share with you today about why we celebrate Thanksgiving and how it can prepare our hearts for Advent!
#1: THANKSGIVING IN JULY
We’ve all heard the story of the first Thanksgiving. What we don’t always envision when we think about the Pilgrims landing at Plymouth Rock in 1621 is that they arrived so late in the season that they did not have time to build proper homes and shelters before winter would arrive. They were faced with a harsh winter and after one year, half of all those who landed at Pilgrim Rock, were dead. After facing many hardships in getting started, when they came to their first Spring and Summer, the sun came out and the crops began to grow and flourish. It was during their first July at Plymouth Rock when Governor William Bradford declared, “We are going to set aside three days for a time of prayer, rejoicing and giving thanks.” And so they did just that! In spite of the hardships and the struggles, he encouraged everyone to give thanks and it really resonated with their souls!They enjoyed that experience so much that it became a tradition each year on July 30th to set aside three days to give thanks, pray and rejoice.
#2: THANKSGIVING MOVES TO NOVEMBER
Thanksgiving remained on July 30th until 1789 when George Washington decided to move it to November 30, closer to the time of harvest. It stayed that way until the 1800s when Abraham Lincoln moved it to the last Thursday of November. In 1941, Congress decided to move it to the fourth Thursday of November in case there was a fifth Thursday in November. The thought being, celebrating Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday would allow for more shopping days before Christmas! Little did Congress know that retailers would take matters into their own hands and start putting out Christmas decorations before Halloween!!!
#3 YEAR ROUND GRATITUDE
Gratitude remains important for us, today and while Thanksgiving is a very official time to focus on gratitude, it is through constant gratitude; written down and expressed, that our eyes become open to God’s call in our lives. Constant gratitude. It’s not all at once. In the book of Thessalonians in the Bible, Paul writes to the people who have just started a new church. The church was really experiencing growing pains and the people were feeling overwhelmed. Paul encouraged them, “do not grow weary in doing well.” By being disciplined, writing in a gratitude journal, writing thank-you notes and looking at life through a lens of gratitude, we can experience great changes in our life, over time!
And finally, if you’re like me, the good habit of writing daily thank you notes from earlier this year has slowly started to fade! But, that doesn’t mean it’s too late to pick it back up and finish the year strong! If you and I commit to writing a thank you note to someone who has touched our life, every day between now and the end of the year, we could each write 45 notes of gratitude!! Are you in?