Gratitude is Key To Happiness

In 1620, 102 people sailed from Plymouth, England in a small ship in the faith and hope that they could cross the Atlantic Ocean to a new land where they could freely practice their religious beliefs and cultivate a piece of land for themselves to live freely upon. They crossed successfully to land in today’s Massachusetts. Despite their prayers, half of them died before they saw their first spring there and could even begin to start their work to become self-sustainable. But then they were astonished when a member of the Abkenaki tribe appeared and greeted them in English. He returned days later with a member of the Pawtuxet tribe named Squanto who had lived in England. He taught the ill and malnourished Pilgrims how to catch fish, raise corn, and extract sap from maple trees. He also fostered an alliance between them and the local Wapanoag tribe. In November 1621, after their first corn harvest proved a success and it looked like they would be able to survive sustainably after-all, Governor William Bradford organized a celebratory feast which lasted for 3 days. Around 90 of the Wapanoag came bringing deer meat to the fete with them, while the grateful settlers provided fowl and corn. In 1789 George Washington issued the first Thanksgiving proclamation on behalf of the newly-established American government. His successors John Adams and James Madison also designated days-of-thanks when they served as president.

Canada and the US are the only two countries that have set-aside a national holiday for their people to reflect on all that they have to be grateful for in their lives. In 1863 president Abraham Lincoln officially recognized the observance of Thanksgiving. He called upon Americans to engage in a day of prayer and fasting (the fasting part is quite ironic now), and to recognize the role of the Divine in shaping the destiny of not only individuals but also of nations. Lincoln asked for his fellow citizens to also use the day to pray for forgiveness and for God’s blessings. He asked this as the Civil War dragged on and the Union armies were suffering bloody setbacks. Even during that difficult time, he wanted every American to remember that no matter what, there is always more than enough to be grateful for – just as the Pilgrims, who survived only by the mercy of providence, did.

Our times are growing more trying again now, but we have more today than any of them could have ever dreamed of being able to be thankful for.

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