As we give thanks on this national day of celebration, let us also think of Sarah Josepha Hale. Who? Sarah Josepha Hale was the editor of Godey’s Lady’s Book and the author of ‘Mary Had a Little Lamb’. She is also the author of the modern day version of Thanksgiving.
When we all were in elementary school, we learned (and acted out) that the first Thanksgiving was held in the the 1600’s (1621 to be exact) with the Pilgrims and the Native Americans. While there were sporadic Thanksgivings held after that, there was no official holiday. There wasn’t even an official country.
In 1777, the 13 colonies celebrated a Thanksgiving, although it was held in October. President George Washington declared Thursday, November 26, 1789 to be ‘the day of public thanksgiving and prayer’, mostly to give thanks for the opportunity to create a new nation. But it wasn’t until 1863, under the administration of President Abraham Lincoln, that the annual celebration was created. It was Sarah Josepha Hale who persuaded President Lincoln to create a national holiday with a specific date. It must have been a great accomplishment for her, she had been advocating for it for 40 years, seeing it as a way to bring the country together and create an atmosphere of hope. It’s ironic that it was during the Civil War that her efforts came to fruition. On October 3, 1863, President Lincoln issued a ‘Thanksgiving Proclamation’. 75 years later, President Franklin D. Roosevelt moved the holiday up a week due to a request by retailers who saw the opportunity to increase Christmas sales. (And didn’t that work out well for them?!). It created a lot of controversy and confusion at the time, but we’re not going to go into that.
That’s a brief history, now here we are at present. Thanksgiving is more than the day before ‘Black Friday’. It really is a time to think about your loved ones and the blessings you have from living in this country. Some of the things people in this office were thankful for:
Not having to worry about whether or not a ceasefire would hold.
Having a roof over our heads and food on our table.
Good health, family, and friends.
All of our fingers and toes and working parts.
Iphones (and Itunes!)
A family member surviving cancer and chemo.
So think about it. Take a little time. Breathe in, breathe out, drop your shoulders, your worries, your load. Give hugs. Count your blessings and be thankful.