Thanksgiving Day can mean many things to people. It’s the day we eat turkey and dressing, candied yams, and pumpkin pie. It’s the day family gets together (or at least not more than two families according to the State of Michigan this year). It’s the day we get to sleep in. It’s the day of the Macy’s Parade watching balloons, floats, and marching bands (except this year will be very different). It’s the day we watch the Detroit Lions play football. It’s the day people are planning their strategy for Black Friday.
As the story goes, a man was watching his wife prepare a roast. She cut off the end of the roast and threw it away and then placed the remaining meat in the roasting pan. The husband was amazed that part of the roast was thrown away and wanted to know why. His wife replied, “That’s the way my mother did it.” So the couple decided to ask the mother why part of the roast was thrown away. Her reply compounded the mystery. She replied, “That’s the way my mother did it.” So, all three decided to ask the grandmother the mystery of the roast. The grandmother’s reply stunned them all. She said, “My roasting pan wasn’t big enough for the whole roast.”
The story of the roast is a cautionary tale reminding us that the reasons for things can be lost over time. The meaning of a tradition needs to be passed down with the tradition. One dictionary defines Thanksgiving Day as an annual holiday where we celebrate the harvest. Does that really give the complete picture?
The first Thanksgiving Day in our country was declared by Governor William Bradford on December 13, 1621. It was to be a day of feasting and prayer. Certainly, it was a day of celebration, but it was also a day of thanksgiving to God.
The first national proclamation of Thanksgiving was in 1789 by President George Washington. About that day he wrote, [it is] “to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be: that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our service and humble thanks for His kind care and protection….”
Thanksgiving Day may mean a lot of different things to us. Our traditional meals and annual activities may vary from family to family. But let us not loose sight of the original intent for the day. Let us give thanks to God for His providential care.