... the season and the celebration
This is a month to celebrate the harvest of the year and the coming of a new season.
The vibrant leaves of red and gold fall from the trees and color the lawns and lakes with a collection, and reflection, of wind-blown artwork. We look forward to the holiday season with the expectations of a child.
When the Pilgrims landed in Plymouth in 1620 their expectations were for a better life than the one that they left behind. A life where they could live and pray in peace. With the help of the American Indian the harvest of 1621 was beautiful and bountiful. They decided to celebrate in thanksgiving with their new found friends.
They did not celebrate in the year 1622 but in 1623 during a severe drought the Pilgrims joined in prayer. A torrential rain saved their crops and Governor Bradford proclaimed another day of Thanksgiving. This did not continue as a tradition until June 20,1676 when the governing council of Charlestown, Massachusetts voted to proclaim June 29th as a day of Thanksgiving.
October 1777 was the first time all the 13 colonies joined in the celebration. George Washington proclaimed a national day of Thanksgiving in 1789. Later President Jefferson scoffed at the idea.
It was Sarah Josepha Hale, a magazine editor, whose efforts eventually led to what we recognize as Thanksgiving. Hale wrote many editorials championing her cause in her Boston Ladies' Magazine, and later, in Godey's Lady's Book. Finally, after a 40-year campaign of writing editorials and letters to governors and presidents, Hale's obsession became a reality when, in 1863, President Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday in November as a national day of Thanksgiving.
Every president after Lincoln proclaimed Thanksgiving although the date was changed a couple of times. Most recently Franklin Roosevelt moved it one week to the next-to-last Thursday in order to create a longer Christmas shopping season.
Public uproar against this decision caused the president to move Thanksgiving back to its original date two years later. And in 1941, Congress finally sanctioned Thanksgiving as a legal holiday, as the fourth Thursday in November.
However you celebrate your Thanksgiving, remember how long and how hard it was to get to this place in time.
May your holiday be bountiful and beautiful, and may we all have much to be thankful for.