On June 28, 1870, President Ulysses S. Grant signed into law the Holidays Act that made Thanksgiving a yearly appointed federal holiday. But what is it about Thanksgiving that makes it a holiday to celebrate in the first place? It's about the harvest.
What is "the harvest"? Well, it's about the labor of the prior year all coming together to be offered in a feast of plenty. But does a harvest have to be the measurement of the food we consume? No. We can harvest friendships and relationships that have manifested through the year. We can harvest an emotional bounty of love, compassion, and empathy for others. We can harvest a work ethic that is reflected in our career or job satisfaction. We can be thankful that we have the ability to work and to work well. We can look at our children and our spouse, our partners, and our parents and feel appreciation for the contributions they make to our lives. We can thank our creator who blesses our lives every day. Even when we don't recognize those blessings in the moments of struggle, we can know he is watching over us, going through the struggles with us, and has our best interest at the center of his being.
Thanksgiving is so much more than turkey, dressing, cranberries, and pie. It is a time to remember, to celebrate, and honor those who have been the most important parts of our life over the past year. It's about opening up the heart to forgive others for their shortcomings. It's letting go of the fights that steal our joy. It's a time to reflect on the good things that have happened this year, the new job, the new baby, the new friend, and the renewed faith in God and humanity.
Thanksgiving literally means, "To Give Thanks" so today, be blessed, be mindful of what you have, and focus on the love that surrounds you. Even if you are alone today, reach out to a friend, a neighbor, a loved one and tell them how thankful you are they are in your life. If you feel you don't have anyone you can reach out to, reach up and embrace the love God has for you. You are his treasure, his pride, and his joy.
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid;
do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”