On October 3rd, 1863, during the middle of one of the bloodiest civil wars in world history, President Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation declaring that the third Thursday in November be “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, tranquillity and Union.”
Here was a nation being torn a part by war but yet determined to give thanks for all of the blessings that God had bestowed. Truly remarkable when you think about it.
Thanksgiving has come to mean many things to many people. For some, it’s a time to go off our diets and enjoy the wonderful food associated with the season. For others, it’s a time to watch a great game or do some holiday shopping. And for many, it’s a time to reconnect with family and friends that we don’t get to see on a regular basis.
For me, it’s all those things but above all, it is, as Lincoln said, a time to be thankful for all the blessings that have been bestowed to us. Even if you don’t believe in God or subscribe to any organized faith, we can all certainly appreciate all that we have in life. And in doing so, it’s almost impossible not to think about those who are perhaps less fortunate than we.
I think about our seniors in our Albany County Nursing home, some of whom have no family or friends to be by their side. I think of our men and women in the armed forces who will be spending yet another holiday away from their families. I think of the addicted, the afflicted and the homeless. I think about children that go to bed hungry every night and their parents who struggle to provide the basics of life.
I think about those who are going through difficult times in general, perhaps someone who has lost a loved one or perhaps lost a job. I pray that they have the ability to see beyond the darkness and to focus in on all that is good in their lives.
And I think about all those who will be working on Thanksgiving so that the rest of us can enjoy a wonderful holiday, especially our police officers, firefighters and ems workers.
So as we come to the beginning of another holiday season and as we gather with friends and family, let’s ask ourselves what it is we have to give thanks for. For me, I am thankful for my wife, children, family and friends. I am thankful that we are all healthy and have a beautiful home to enjoy. Because at the end of the day, isn’t that what’s truly important?
I wish all of you a most happy and healthy Thanksgiving.