Most people equate Thanksgiving with the pilgrims and Plymouth Rock (Plimoth Plantation). Although the first Thanksgiving in 1621 was a mild celebration between Native Americans and English settlers, it would not become a national observance for nearly 200 years.
In an effort to unify a torn Union, President Lincoln declared, on October 3, 1863, that the final Thursday of November would be a day of Thanksgiving. He wished to commemorate “a day of Thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.”
The nation honored Thanksgiving by closing stores, holding parades, and sending Thanksgiving greeting cards. Although Thanksgiving was a national observance, it wasn’t designated as a true American holiday until 1939, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt moved it up a week to spike holiday retail sales during the Great Depression. Many opposed this move, so in 1941, President Roosevelt signed a bill making Thanksgiving the fourth Thursday in November, and it has been observed on that day ever since.
The true essence of Thanksgiving isn’t Black Friday or football or the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade (which I love, don’t get me wrong) or even turkey. It is to give thanks for all the blessings we have, and for being a part of this magnificent, great nation under God. May you all have a blissful, peaceful Thanksgiving.