It’s the eve of Thanksgiving. In a few hours, I’ll be baking pies with my children. In fact, all over the country, kitchens are bustling with activity. In my head it’s like something out of a Norman Rockwell picture. Flour spattered aprons, skilled grandmothers teaching younger generations the secret to good pie crusts. Families are gathering. Each knock at the door bringing with it another familiar face.
Norman Rockwell’s reality no longer is, however. As I write, men and women across the country are lining up outside various stores. Tents in the midst of the concrete jungle; they’ll sleep outside, waiting more than 24 hours for their shot at a $5 toaster or a $200 television. The biggest shopping day of the year has seeped into what was once sacred. Black Friday begets gray Thursday. And, while I agree that corporations are simply responding to the public’s demands, I can’t help but mourn a little. I’m not against capitalism. If I were, I’d forgo a heck of a lot more than shopping on Thanksgiving. (That means you, NFL). We Americans seem to have forgotten what Thanksgiving is all about.
It was declared a holiday in 1863. Not to shop or to celebrate pilgrims or to even watch football. President Lincoln recognized it as a day to give thanks. To appreciate and recognize our good fortunes as Americans. Even in the midst of a great civil war, Lincoln understood that God has been good to us.
We seem to have lost our way. Instead of thanking our Creator we praise the god of Walmart. I’d urge all of my readers to take a detour this year. Please read President Lincoln’s words. Share them with family and friends. Give thanks and remember you’re giving thanks to the same Almighty God that Lincoln talks about.
The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defense have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.
In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.
Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth.
By the President: Abraham Lincoln
Happy Thanksgiving and may God bless each of you.
Image: Courtesy of: http://0149.deviantart.com/art/Abraham-Lincoln-138506623