A mere 22 days ago my house was recovering from a fun filled evening of trick or treating and candy eating, a Halloween celebration that spread across two weekends with school carnivals, church wide trunk or treats and door knocking. Yet, in just 33 days we will celebrate Christmas. A holiday that also has spread across a multi week time period as we look to celebrate with classmates, co-workers and family members near and far.
Sandwiched between October 31 and December 25 is Thanksgiving, falling on the fourth Thursday in November since 1940. As our children begin to get older, the history of this holiday – the true meaning, has become of interest to me.
Today, it feels to me that the media and day to day demands have recycled Thanksgiving as a time to encourage individuals to express general gratitude through the celebration of food and spending money while kicking off the Holiday gift giving. Instead of standing alone as a significant day that deserves its own place on the calendar without the commotion of other activities in the works.
Through research I found that the ‘reason’ for the Thanksgiving celebration, which for a few hundred years did not take place on the same day, varied.
The 1623 celebration marked the end of a long drought and a celebration of successful crop growing. During the American Revolution, Continental Congress designated multiple days of Thanksgiving a year. In 1789, George Washington issued the first Thanksgiving proclamation by the national government of the United States, calling Americans to express gratitude for the happy conclusion to the country’s war of independence.
Then, at the height of the Civil War, in 1863, Abraham Lincoln made a proclamation entreating all Americans to ask God to ‘commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife’ and to ‘heal the wounds of the nation.’
Lincoln was the first to schedule Thanksgiving for a set date, selecting the final Thursday in November.
During the Great Depression, Franklin Roosevelt moved the holiday up one week in an attempt to spur retail sales. A decision that was met with passionate opposition, but has stuck since 1940.
Reflecting on my findings has allowed me to embrace the true reason, in my eyes, for Thanksgiving even more this year.
It is uplifting to see that over time Thanksgiving was celebrated with diversity. A diverse group of individuals coming together to share in celebration and enjoy the available crop. A diverse number of reasons to celebrate each year and to reflect on previous celebrations.
Stirring up history makes my heart swell for all I have to be thankful for this year, both personally and professionally.
Our staff and board at The First Tee of the Sandhills has strived to ensure we are showing thanks ‘every step of the way’ as we have treaded through a year of change and success both on and off the course.
We are bursting with thanks for the opportunity to have retained relationships with volunteers, participants, community leaders and businesses while also making inroads in the execution of new plans, new faces in our volunteer line up, new participants in our curriculum programs and new partnerships with businesses and individual supporters.
We are thankful that so many share in our passion for the mission and vision of The First Tee of the Sandhills. To ensure that a diverse group of young people across the Sandhills are being provided the opportunity to develop and grow through mentorship and character education, giving them the exposure needed to become better citizens tomorrow and helping to make a lasting impact in our communities – all while enjoying the game of golf!
Thursday gives us an opportunity to reflect on a year of gratitude, but in actuality, we are thankful each and every day.