As Thanksgiving draws near and family and traditions grow further apart, the true meaning and purpose of Thanksgiving becomes foggy and even forgotten. Amongst the clutter, and bustle of the “holiday season,” it gets lost. Like an old box of ornaments in the attic, it sits gathering dust, waiting, hoping to be opened. To be remembered. But when it finally is opened its met with indifference and even disdain.
It’s just a day off. Just a day created by a bunch thieves and murderers. Turkey day! A time to sit back and watch football. The beginning of the Christmas rush- Black Friday shopping. Strip that all away- peel it back like layers of old wallpaper in a house. Pull back the layers of commercialization, the family commitments, the hurry, tear away the calendar date. Thanksgiving.
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How Thanksgiving Began
The purpose of Thanksgiving wasn’t to feast or party. It wasn’t about the shopping, a parade or football. It wasn’t even about a turkey and a pumpkin- or getting together with the family. How Thanksgiving began and why Thanksgiving is celebrated in the United States is rooted in our history and faith.
The very first Thanksgiving was created as a time to thank God for keeping the pilgrims alive during a long voyage across the Atlantic ocean to an unknown land in search religeious freedom. It was to thank Him for sustaining them through persecution, a terrifing trip across the ocean, diseases, crop failures, blizzards an the hazards of living in the wilderness.
Thanksgiving was a time to thank God for seeing them through the hardships and bringing them to a land that they could live in freedom, for bringing them people who could teach them how to survive in this new world that they sought refuge in.
The first Thanksgiving was three days of praying and giving thanks to God. Of being with family and friends and thanking God for them. Three days of praise and worship, that was attended by 90 Native Americans and 53 Pilgrims.
Why Thanksgiving Is Celebrated
Thanksgiving is celebrated in the United States as a time of gratitude and thankfulness to the one who has faithfully seen them through. It’s a memorial to everything that God has brought us through.
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.” – 1 Chronicles 16:34 (NIV)
As Christians Thanksgiving is so much more then a family gathering, it’s a chance to stop and change our perspective to one of gratitude for all the Lord has done in our lives, and for the greatest gift He ever gave, His son.
Why Thanksgiving Is Important?
Thanksgiving is important because it’s a chance to stop and see God in everything around us, a time to remember, where we’ve been, the hills and the valley’s we’ve walked through. How has He sustained you? How has he brought strangers into your life to teach and encourage you on your journey? Where are the places he’s carried you through hardships, failure, and diseases? Find the places in your life where His arms have encircled you and seen you safely through.
What are you thankful for- don’t answer that quickly, don’t whip out a pat answer and move on. Dwell on it, what is close to your heart? Don’t just say “I’m thankful” next to a 2-second answer just to get the spot light off of you. What are you really thankful for? Who are you thankful for? Take a moment to celebrate this holiday the way it was intended. Pour out your heart to your Father.
Ways To Cultivate Thankfulness
We live in a culture that has forgotten how to be thankful, in the rush to have the newest and biggest ‘whatever’ we have lost the art of simply being thankful. Let’s change that, you and me, starting in our own homes. Let’s learn to be thankful again, and to come before our Lord with praise as we thank Him for the many blessings He’s bestowed on our lives.
Ways you can cultivate thankfulness in your life:
- Prayer – this is a wonderful to cultivate thankfulness in your life and prepare for the coming Christmas season. Simply talk to God as you would a close friend and tell Him thank you. You can even get your kids envolved with this great printable.
- Keep a gratitude journal – This is a wonderful way to keep track of what the Lord is doing in your life, and what you are grateful for each day/week. When you are struggling you can look back over it and it will become a memorial to what the Lord has done.
- Come up with three things you are thankful for each day – It’s amazing how this can change your perspective and attitude.
- Worship – give praise to your father in heaven.
- Thanks – thank those in your life that have helped you.
What Thanksgiving Really Means
Do you know the real story of Thanksgiving? Do your kids? Do your grandkids? This year make sure they know the true story. Spend some time with them, more than just a family meal on Thanksgiving. Whether it’s listening to an audiobook or a radio drama while doing holiday baking. Or curling up together on the couch next to the fire watching a movie or read a book together. Or gather around a table playing a game. The time will be well spent.
When they are old and have children and grandchildren of their own, it won’t be the football game they watched or the amount of pie they ate that they will remember, but the time spent with you. So make some new traditions this Thanksgiving, it’s not too late. You will be glad you did!
Here are a few of our favorite adventures, some that I grew up with and others that I enjoy now.
Movies About Thanksgiving:
This Is America Charlie Brown – The Mayflower Voyagers
the Peanuts gang tells the story of the Mayflower voyage from England to the new world, in 1620. They detail the hardships the pilgrims faced while trying to adapt to their new land, and how it was the help of the Natives Samoset, Squanto and the Wampanoag Chief Massasoit that helped them survive. The special ends the next fall when the pilgrims share their bountiful harvest with the Natives in a feast of Thanksgiving.
Animated Hero Classic Series: William Bradford
The story William Bradford, Squanto, faith during trial
Dear America: A Journey to the New World
The story of a twelve-year-old Pilgrim girl’s first few months at Plymouth Colony.
An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving
The widow Mary Bassett and her 3 children have come on difficult times, which becomes especially apparent when they can’t even afford a turkey for their Thanksgiving dinner. The widows oldest daughter writes to their wealthy and estranged grandmother for help.
A Thankstaking Story
On a snowy Thanksgiving Day, Whit, Connie, Eugene and a few of their friends end up stuck at Whit’s End. To pass the time, they tell a zany story of the Scrunch and his plan for “Thankstaking.”
A Thanksgiving Carol
Whit and the gang use Kids’ Radio to tell Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol with an unusual twist.
Thank You, God
At Thanksgiving dinner, Whit tells the story of how his stepmother changed his life.
The Legend of Squanto
This audio drama brings to light the story of one of America’s early legends — “Squanto.” History remembers Tisquantum as the Native American who taught early settlers to fish and farm. He’s even credited with the first Thanksgiving. But few hear the story of the condemnation that dragged him outside America to a life in chains and what he discovered after his exile. It’s an inspiring true story of this little-known early American that triumphed over injustice and changed what would become the United States.
There shall be “a day of public Thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God….”
–1789 Congressional Proclamation
A holiday for celebrating faith, family, and freedom, Thanksgiving Day is both distinctly Christian and exclusively American. Barbara Rainey has created an excellent resource for enabling you and your family to remember the past, recognize God’s hand in our history, and express thankfulness to Him for His goodness today.
Adventurous Lil Pup is bummed that hibernating season will soon be coming to the Great North Woods. Why should so many of his friends have to go in for the winter and leave Lil Pup without pals? Mama reminds her little wolf that not all animals hibernate, and how he can be grateful for the beautiful autumn season – for jumping in leaf piles, eating apple treats, and celebrating the wonders of fall with his forest friends.
As Mama and Lil Pup explore, she reminds him that God is the giver of all good things. Lil Pup learns that even when something fun comes to an end; his heart can be thankful when he sets his mind on the best things in his life.
In 1620 an English ship called the Mayflower landed on the shores inhabited by the Pokanoket, and it was Squanto who welcomed the newcomers and taught them how to survive. When a good harvest was gathered, the people feasted together–a tradition that continues almost four hundred years later.
Before you go, check these out!
- 9 Thanksgiving Tables You’re Going To Love
- Thanksgiving At Rosevine Cottage
- How To Decorate A Porch For Fall