I am sitting here in my study a couple of days before Thanksgiving. Amongst all the hustle and bustle of getting ready for the big day, I find myself pondering on the importance of the day – Thanksgiving Day – and how it developed into what it has become today. So, I did what anyone does today when they have a question about something – I Googled it.
From my research I learned that the concept of having a celebration to give thanks dates back to the 1500’s in Europe. They called it “Days of Thanksgiving.” In those days it was mostly tied to religious celebrations. In the United States, the origins of Thanksgiving date back to events that happened around 1620. One of the most frequently referred to events was the celebration of the Pilgrims and Puritans in Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1621 where they celebrated the good harvest that they had that year.
But it wasn’t until the 1660’s that a “Thanksgiving” celebration became an annual event in the New England area. Thanksgiving was first celebrated nationwide on November 26, 1789 when President George Washington proclaimed that the country should have “a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favours of Almighty God."
One last tidbit, it wasn’t until 1941 that Thanksgiving Day was set to be celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November throughout the United States.
Since my earliest childhood I have always loved Thanksgiving! Why? Well first, there was no school. Then it was great to have the whole family (my family, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc.) together. We always had so much fun. Then there was the food, so much food – turkey, stuffing, corn, pies and more (and did I mention there was turkey?). Back in those days Thanksgiving was just a fun day!
Since I have gotten older, married, and had children of my own Thanksgiving has taken on newer meanings. There were a few years where I actually dreaded Thanksgiving. The dread came when we started celebrating it at our home. The chaos of cleaning, decorating and preparing for the guests to arrive was nerve wracking. Then, while they were at our home it seemed like we were so busy cooking, serving and cleaning that we really didn’t get to enjoy it much. And the worst part was cleaning up afterwards. Who knew how much garbage could be created by a group of 20, or so people. But I can say (thankfully) the dread only lasted a few years.
More recently I find Thanksgiving to be a wonderful day. Yes, we still have the family over to our house, and yes there is still the cleaning, decorating, and cooking to do. But for some reason it has become part of the fun of the day. I have realized that I can be thankful that I get to do these things to help my wife prepare for the feast. Wow, did that single realization make Thanksgiving so much more enjoyable.
But I have also developed the awareness that today really is about “giving thanks” to the Good Lord. I make time every year on Thanksgiving to sit quietly and reflect on all the things I have to be grateful for. I am so grateful for my beautiful wife and great children, for family and friends, for a career that I love, for my business partners and associates, the lives that I get to impact in positive ways, I could go on and on. I am thankful for the love I have in my life. The love I have to give and the love that I am fortunate to receive. I am thankful for the challenges and hardships, as well, because they are the lessons that make me stronger and wiser. I am just thankful and grateful for all of it in my life.
So, the question I find myself asking this morning is why should I wait for Thanksgiving Day to be thankful? I am realizing more and more that I need to make time every day to be thankful and grateful. In fact, I am realizing that thankfulness and gratitude should be more than something I do once a day. They are attitudes that I need to embody all day, every day. They need to be who I am at all times, not just something I do once in a while. I know that I have not totally mastered this, but I am working on it. But my commitment is that I will continue to work on making every day Thanksgiving Day. In doing so, my intent, my hope, is to create positive ripples in the lives of people around me so that they can experience a little bit of Thanksgiving Day every day!
Writer William Arthur Ward once said … “Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.”
In closing, my wish to you this Thanksgiving, is that you will join me in my quest to make every day “Thanksgiving Day” by learning to be thankful and grateful always.
From the team at Anavo to you and yours, we wish you the Happiest of Thanksgivings!