Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me ‘to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:’
–George Washington, Oct. 3, 1789
I must confess that I’ve always viewed Thanksgiving as the Holiday we must get past in order to focus on Christmas. I imagine a lot of people have the same view; whether they will admit it or not. Also, many people wrongly ascribe Thanksgiving to oppression and tyranny. It’s a shame this mindset has taken hold; just as the view that “we must get past [Thanksgiving] in order to focus on Christmas” has. Through the lens of maturity, I have come to realize these views were–and are–wrong.
Thanksgiving gives us the opportunity to reflect upon our lives, and to focus on what is important: family, friends, and health. Despite Thanksgiving being steeped in religious dogma, the most ardent atheist appreciates these facets of life. This commonality that people share in appreciating life’s rewards, makes it unfortunate this noble Holiday falls when it does.
If Thanksgiving were observed earlier in the year (January or February) people would not be distracted by the yuletide. It’s to our detriment that we don’t truly appreciate the blessings we have because we focus on the Christmas season, shopping, and New Year’s Eve.
Although I’m not going to convince people differently, Thanksgiving doesn’t celebrate brutality and persecution. If this notion was set aside, and people focused on being thankful for their individual successes. Then much of the controversy over this Holiday would vanish.
Simply put, Thanksgiving is a time to commemorate the blessings of life. Regardless of a person’s background or creed, it’s the one-day of the year for everyone to stop, look back, and be thankful for life’s blessings.