I vaguely remember my elementary school play one Thanksgiving many moons ago. I do remember that I was a Pilgrim. My mother had made my black shorts and a “Pilgrim Hat,” the one with the stovetop and buckle. I remember that it was better than the year before when I played “Humpty Dumpty.” Anyway, this play was to depict what we were taught to be the first Thanksgiving in the United States when 90 Indians and 53 Pilgrims gathered for a meal in October of 1621 in thankfulness to God for a great harvest.

A proclamation later by the Continental Congress stated that the government, “Do hereby recommend it to the inhabitants of these States in general, to observe and request the several states to interpose their authority, in appointing and commanding the observation of THURSDAY the TWENTY-EIGHTH DAY OF NOVEMBER next as a day of SOLEMN THANKSGIVING to GOD for all His mercies; and they do further recommend to all ranks to testify their gratitude to God for His goodness by a cheerful obedience to His laws and by promoting, each in his station, and by his influence, the practice of true and undefiled religion, which is the great foundation of public prosperity and national happiness.” (Library of Congress. “Religion and the Congress of the Confederation, 1774–89”)

In 1863 President Lincoln made a proclamation to observe a day of thanks. “It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and 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.” (“Proclamation of Thanksgiving” – October 3, 1863)

It would be 1942 before congress would officially set the fourth Thursday of November as a National Day of Thanksgiving. Of course, we Texans have to be different and celebrated Thanksgiving on the last Thursday of November until the mid-fifties. 

From its inception, Thanksgiving was established to be a giving of thanks to God for the blessings he has given to us. Today, although it’s more about sports and and a big meal, it is one of those times that many people do stop to be thankful for the blessings that they have received. 

Being thankful is a characteristic that people have a tendency to forget about. We pray for our wants, our needs, and our personal desires. We pray for the church, the sick and people in grief. We pray for God’s strength to endure, for the courage to face life’s challenges, and for relief from the stresses of life. God more often than not answers our prayers, but we seldom take time to stop when we see an answer and thank him for what he has done for us.

Sometimes we are like the little girl who sat down at the dinner table and gazed across at the leftovers. She began filling her plate when her father stopped her. “Honey,” he said, “Let’s first give thanks.” The little girl looked up at her dad and said, “What for? We thanked God for this last night!” 

We should never forget to be thankful. It should be a part of our daily prayer life.

When we are thankful…

We are able to view life with different color glasses

When we are thankful…

We find less to complain about

When we are thankful…

We acknowledge that God is the source of what we receive

When we are thankful…

Our hearts are filled with joy

When we are thankful…

The stresses of the world around us seem less important

When we are thankful…

Our attitude toward ourselves and others is brighter

When we are thankful…

Life is upbeat, happier and moves along with a more positive atmosphere

When we are thankful…

Out outlook is positive and optimistic

May your week this week truly be one that will bring out the thankfulness of our hearts. May we stop and take note of all the good that is going on around us. May we pause for a few moments, open our eyes and look around at how we have been blessed. 

God’s blessings are so many more than the few glitches that come our way. Thankfulness is to dwell on the good and not the bad. If we look for the bad, we will find it. In the same way, if we look for the good, we will discover that it far outweighs the bad.

Back to the elementary school play. I am thankful that I was a Pilgrim. I’d had rather been an Indian, but at least I wasn’t a turkey!


Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Colossians 3:15

Danny Minton is Pastoral Minister and Elder at Southern Hills Church of Christ.


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