This coming up Thursday is Thanksgiving, isn’t it? I would never know from all the radio and television commercials for Black Friday (which has turned into Black Thursday night or even earlier). Christmas decorations have been going up around my neighborhood for a week already! Forget Thanksgiving. Our country and culture has gone from Halloween to Christmas. How did this happen?
The original idea of Thanksgiving was to be thankful for our blessings. A writer friend of mine found one of her ancestors to be the woman who started the whole Thanksgiving movement. Her name was Sarah Josepha Hale and she is considered the mother of Thanksgiving.
Sarah was quite a pioneer in many rights. She wrote for several journals and was one of the first published women in America. When she married, her husband, David Hale, taught her to read and write. She wrote articles on slavery, but she also helped with a magazine that focused on women’s rights.
At that time, Thanksgiving was only celebrated in small villages throughout the country. Sarah wanted to have it made a national holiday and began writing to the President of the United States, James Polk. She continued writing to five different presidents before President Lincoln agreed to make it a holiday in 1863.
Thanksgiving is a holiday specifically meant for us to reflect on what we are thankful for in our own life. I seem to remember that the Pilgrims spent three days celebrating Thanksgiving and being thankful. We should do the same! We have to remember to be thankful for living in this country and are blessed beyond measure for all we have: our homes, cars, appliances and employment—just to name a few. We have families, friends, and neighbors that enjoy our time together.
Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf said this:
“Perhaps focusing on what we are grateful for is the wrong approach. It is difficult to develop a spirit of gratitude if our thankfulness is only proportional to the number of blessings we can count. True, it is important to frequently “count our blessings”—and anyone who has tried this knows there are many—but I don’t believe the Lord expects us to be less thankful in times of trial than in times of abundance and ease. In fact, most of the scriptural references do not speak of gratitude for things but rather suggest an overall spirit or attitude of gratitude.” (Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “Grateful in Any Circumstances,” April 2014)
Having an “attitude of gratitude” helps us to remember. We should be thankful for our safety and our happiness. We should be thankful for our life on earth. We should remember to be grateful.
It was Alfred North Whitehead, an English Mathematician and philosopher, who said:
“No one who achieves success does so without the help of others. The wise and confident acknowledge this help with gratitude.”
We are all dependent upon each other for successes in our careers, hobbies, and pursuits. How ungrateful we would be if we didn’t truly feel thankful for those people who have helped us get to where we are today. We are social by nature and we each touch the life of another and have our own lives touched in return. We should be thankful for these people and interactions.
We live in what I believe to be the world’s most incredible country, yet we are so spoiled. There is nothing worse than a child who has everything, but just thinks about what he doesn’t have and demands more. Are we really that unhappy? No, I don’t think so. We are just ungrateful.
We have so much freedom, wealth, and opportunity. We are so blessed with family and friends. There is so much to be thankful for that we should be the happiest people in the world. Let’s give our Thanksgiving holiday the respect that it deserves and promote an attitude of gratitude for this upcoming holiday. Forget Black Friday until Friday morning! Thursday is Thanksgiving, and we should take advantage of its special opportunity to be thankful and express our gratitude.
This article was originally published in November 2014. Minor changes have been made.
Valerie Steimle has been writing as a family advocate for over 25 years. As a convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, she promotes Christian living in her writings and is the mother of nine children and grandmother to twelve. Mrs. Steimle authored six books and is a contributing writer to several online websites. To her, time is the most precious commodity we have and knows we should spend it wisely. To read more of Valerie's work, visit her at her website, The Blessings of Family Life.