2017-11-23 / People

Keep the spirit of Thanksgiving alive even after holiday is over

Everyone’s heard the story of the “first Thanksgiving,” and how two very different groups of people sat together in mutual celebration of the harvest season, and sent up prayers for the following year’s crops and livelihood. Of course, after the year that the Pilgrims had, it would appear that the true definition of thanksgiving was surely not lost on them.

For this particular group seeking refuge and religious freedom, find­ing their way to the shores of New England after a 66-day trip across the ocean and touching the topsoil of what would later be known as Plymouth was probably more than enough for them to kiss the very ground they were privileged to walk upon at that point. With over 100 passengers fighting off disease and famine, it’s also probably safe to infer that seeing such a hopeful landing would have formulated a heavy sense of thanksgiving within their hearts.

Quite possibly, the following year in 1691, when the first Thanksgiving was held within the colonies, surely their travels and year of hardship in establishing themselves in a new land would also evoke a keen sense of gratitude, along with a hopeful­ness for the future.

Perhaps it’s all speculation, but the idea that thanks were being given for a good crop alone seems a bit short-sighted considering the whole of the pilgrimage.

Of course, the idea of spread­ing thankfulness in the form of a national holiday didn’t come until well over 100 years later. New York became one of the first states to of­ficially adopt a Thanksgiving holi­day, however the southern regions were very much removed from this tradition.

According to History.com, “in 1827, the noted magazine editor and prolific writer Sarah Josepha Hale – author, among countless other things, of the nursery rhyme ‘Mary Had a Little Lamb’ – launched a campaign to establish Thanksgiving as a national holiday. For 36 years, she published numerous editorials and sent scores of letters to gover­nors, senators, presidents, and other politicians. Abraham Lincoln finally heeded her request in 1863, at the height of the Civil War, in 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.’”

From there, Lincoln set Thanks­giving as the last Thursday in No­vember, and it was celebrated on this date until 1939. “Franklin D. Roosevelt moved the holiday up a week in an attempt to spur retail sales during the Great Depression. Roosevelt’s plan, known derisively as Franksgiving, was met with pas­sionate opposition, and in 1941 the president reluctantly signed a bill making Thanksgiving the fourth Thursday in November,” History.com records.

Today, Thanksgiving is seen as a family-centered holiday, and more often than not, Americans choose to count their blessings at this time every year, despite the sentiment getting a little crowded out by pa­rades and the commercialized tag of “Turkey Day.”

While having a day designated to being thankful is a wonderful gesture, perhaps taking a tip from the Pilgrims should be considered as well. After all, they seemed to un­derstand that there are many aspects to be thankful for year-round.

Thanksgiving.com believes so too, and in light of the holiday, has actually launched a campaign on “How to Keep Thanksgiving Gratitude All Year,” which is listed below: l Keep a running gratitude list. While sipping your morning cof­fee, jot down three things you’re thankful for in a journal. There’s no better way to start your day than with a grateful heart (and a good cup of coffee). You could even type it into the “Notes” app on your phone so that you always have access to it not matter where you are. l Put things into perspective. Stuck in traffic? At least you have a car to get you where you .-’re .go­ing. -

Kids fighting? Feel lucky you have healthy kids who are able to express themselves. Husband home late from work? Be thankful he has a job to go to. Messy house? Appre­ciate that it’s filled with the people you love. l Pay it forward. Do something kind for someone every day. It can be something as simple as hold­ing the door open for a stranger or slowing down so a fellow driver can merge into your lane. You could also pay for the person behind you at the drive-thru, offer to babysit for a busy mom, volunteer at an animal shelter, visit the elderly in a nursing home, donate items to a homeless shelter, or donate money to a cause you believe in. l Share three positive things with your family at dinner. At the dinner table, have each member of your family share three positive things from their day. Some families share the highs and lows, but we like to share only the highs to keep our hearts full. l Prioritize your health. It’s hard to have a positive mindset when you’re physically exhausted and mentally stressed out. Start prioritiz­ing your health by eating a healthier diet, incorporating physical activity into your day, scheduling annual check-ups, and taking care of your mental health, too. You can do that by practicing yoga, devotions, medi­tation, or simply calling a friend. l Express appreciation to others. When was the last time you thanked your boss for helping you with a project? Cheerfully thanked the cashier for bagging your groceries? Thanked your [spouse] for doing the dishes? This year, go out of your way to thank others for their work.

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