Tag Archives: Thanksgiving

What was Thanksgiving Day really like in history?

The First Thanksgiving
The First Thanksgiving

A mysterious Dr. J (not that Dr. J, this one is Jewish) posted this article on Facebook.

Full text:

The major similarity between the first Jamestown settlers and the first Plymouth settlers was great human suffering.

November was too late to plant crops. Many settlers died of scurvy and malnutrition during that horrible first winter. Of the 102 original Mayflower passengers, only 44 survived. Again like in Jamestown, the kindness of the local Native Americans saved them from a frosty death.

The Pilgrims’ remarkable courage was displayed the following spring. When the Mayflower returned to Europe, not a single Pilgrim deserted Plymouth.

Massasoit, chief of the Wampanoag tribe, signed a treaty with the Pilgrams in 1621, that was never broken. As a result, the two groups enjoyed a peaceful coexistence.

By early 1621, the Pilgrims had built crude huts and a common house on the shores of Plymouth Bay. Soon neighboring Indians began to build relations with the Pilgrims. SQUANTO, a local Indian who had been kidnapped and taken to England nearly a decade before, served as an interpreter with the local tribes. Squanto taught the Pilgrims to fertilize the soil with dried fish remains to produce a stellar corn crop.

MASSASOIT, the chief of the nearby Wampanoags, signed a treaty of alliance with the Pilgrims in the summer. In exchange for assistance with defense against the feared Narragansett tribe, Massasoit supplemented the food supply of the Pilgrims for the first few years.

The modern conception of a Pilgrim might include a man in a black hat with a buckle, but not all of the original settlers of Plymouth County fit this description.

Successful colonies require successful leadership. The man to step forward in Plymouth colony wasWILLIAM BRADFORD. After the first governor elected under the Mayflower Compact perished from the harsh winter, Bradford was elected governor for the next thirty years. In May of 1621, he performed the colony’s first marriage ceremony.

Under Bradford’s guidance, Plymouth suffered less hardship than their English compatriots in Virginia. Relations with the local natives remained relatively smooth in Plymouth and the food supply grew with each passing year.

By autumn of 1621, the Pilgrims had much for which to be thankful. After the harvest, Massasoit and about ninety other Indians joined the Pilgrims for the great English tradition of HARVEST FESTIVAL. The participants celebrated for several days, dining on venison, goose, duck, turkey, fish, and of course, cornbread, the result of a bountiful corn harvest. This tradition was repeated at harvest time in the following years.

It was President Lincoln who declared Thanksgiving a national celebration in 1863. The Plymouth Pilgrims simply celebrated survival, as well as the hopes of good fortune in the years that lay ahead.

This might be a good thing to read out at the Thanksgiving table if you are looking for something meaningful to read.

Study finds that attitude of gratitude has many health benefits

From the Harvard Mental Health Newsletter.

Excerpt:

Two psychologists, Dr. Robert A. Emmons of the University of California, Davis, and Dr. Michael E. McCullough of the University of Miami, have done much of the research on gratitude. In one study, they asked all participants to write a few sentences each week, focusing on particular topics.

One group wrote about things they were grateful for that had occurred during the week. A second group wrote about daily irritations or things that had displeased them, and the third wrote about events that had affected them (with no emphasis on them being positive or negative). After 10 weeks, those who wrote about gratitude were more optimistic and felt better about their lives. Surprisingly, they also exercised more and had fewer visits to physicians than those who focused on sources of aggravation.

Another leading researcher in this field, Dr. Martin E. P. Seligman, a psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania, tested the impact of various positive psychology interventions on 411 people, each compared with a control assignment of writing about early memories. When their week’s assignment was to write and personally deliver a letter of gratitude to someone who had never been properly thanked for his or her kindness, participants immediately exhibited a huge increase in happiness scores. This impact was greater than that from any other intervention, with benefits lasting for a month.

Of course, studies such as this one cannot prove cause and effect. But most of the studies published on this topic support an association between gratitude and an individual’s well-being.

Other studies have looked at how gratitude can improve relationships. For example, a study of couples found that individuals who took time to express gratitude for their partner not only felt more positive toward the other person but also felt more comfortable expressing concerns about their relationship.

Managers who remember to say “thank you” to people who work for them may find that those employees feel motivated to work harder. Researchers at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania randomly divided university fund-raisers into two groups. One group made phone calls to solicit alumni donations in the same way they always had. The second group — assigned to work on a different day — received a pep talk from the director of annual giving, who told the fund-raisers she was grateful for their efforts. During the following week, the university employees who heard her message of gratitude made 50% more fund-raising calls than those who did not.

My editor Mary writes: There is a health bonus to thankfulness but health isn’t why we should be thankful. We should be thankful because we are the recipients of many good things and it is appropriate under such circumstances to express gratitude. It is also the overflow of a heart made happy by the generosity of another.

To help us be thankful, here is a famous Thanksgiving day proclamation.

Here it is:

PRESIDENTIAL THANKSGIVING PROCLAMATIONS

1789-1815 : George Washington, John Adams, James Madison

THANKSGIVING DAY 1789

BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA – A PROCLAMATION

Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor – and Whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me “to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.”

Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be – That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks – for his kind care and protection of the People of this country previous to their becoming a Nation – for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his providence, which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war –for the great degree of tranquillity, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed – for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted, for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions – to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually – to render our national government a blessing to all the People, by constantly being a government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed – to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord – To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and Us – and generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.

(signed) G. Washington

That’s from George Washington.

Happy Thanksgiving Day!

Study finds that attitude of gratitude has many health benefits

From the Harvard Mental Health Newsletter.

Excerpt:

Two psychologists, Dr. Robert A. Emmons of the University of California, Davis, and Dr. Michael E. McCullough of the University of Miami, have done much of the research on gratitude. In one study, they asked all participants to write a few sentences each week, focusing on particular topics.

One group wrote about things they were grateful for that had occurred during the week. A second group wrote about daily irritations or things that had displeased them, and the third wrote about events that had affected them (with no emphasis on them being positive or negative). After 10 weeks, those who wrote about gratitude were more optimistic and felt better about their lives. Surprisingly, they also exercised more and had fewer visits to physicians than those who focused on sources of aggravation.

Another leading researcher in this field, Dr. Martin E. P. Seligman, a psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania, tested the impact of various positive psychology interventions on 411 people, each compared with a control assignment of writing about early memories. When their week’s assignment was to write and personally deliver a letter of gratitude to someone who had never been properly thanked for his or her kindness, participants immediately exhibited a huge increase in happiness scores. This impact was greater than that from any other intervention, with benefits lasting for a month.

Of course, studies such as this one cannot prove cause and effect. But most of the studies published on this topic support an association between gratitude and an individual’s well-being.

Other studies have looked at how gratitude can improve relationships. For example, a study of couples found that individuals who took time to express gratitude for their partner not only felt more positive toward the other person but also felt more comfortable expressing concerns about their relationship.

Managers who remember to say “thank you” to people who work for them may find that those employees feel motivated to work harder. Researchers at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania randomly divided university fund-raisers into two groups. One group made phone calls to solicit alumni donations in the same way they always had. The second group — assigned to work on a different day — received a pep talk from the director of annual giving, who told the fund-raisers she was grateful for their efforts. During the following week, the university employees who heard her message of gratitude made 50% more fund-raising calls than those who did not.

My editor Mary writes: There is a health bonus to thankfulness but health isn’t why we should be thankful. We should be thankful because we are the recipients of many good things and it is appropriate under such circumstances to express gratitude. It is also the overflow of a heart made happy by the generosity of another.

To help us be thankful, here is a famous Thanksgiving day proclamation.

Here it is:

PRESIDENTIAL THANKSGIVING PROCLAMATIONS

1789-1815 : George Washington, John Adams, James Madison

THANKSGIVING DAY 1789

BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA – A PROCLAMATION

Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor – and Whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me “to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.”

Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be – That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks – for his kind care and protection of the People of this country previous to their becoming a Nation – for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his providence, which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war –for the great degree of tranquillity, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed – for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted, for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions – to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually – to render our national government a blessing to all the People, by constantly being a government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed – to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord – To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and Us – and generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.

(signed) G. Washington

That’s from George Washington.

Happy Thanksgiving Day!

Jim Wallace discusses the problem of unanswered prayer

Video is here. (H/T Apologetics 315)

This problem is similar to the problem of divine hiddenness and the problem of evil and suffering. God’s purpose in his relationship with you is not to make you happy. His purpose for relating to you is so that you can know him and enter into a love relationship with him. God is not a toy for you to play with for comfort, and then to put away. With respect to God’s relationship with you, and purpose for you, your happiness is expendable. It may be that you will have to put off trying to make yourself happy until you die… because there are so many other higher-priority things to do with God and other people.

Why I pray

As a Christian, I am especially concerned for other Christians because we have to worry about out relationship with God more than being happy. So I try to make an effort to love and support other Christians who are hurt in the execution of their duty. If you think of prayer as a way of talking to God about your relationship with him, and your relationships with other people (especially Christians), then I think you will have fewer disappointments. At least, that’s what I’ve observed in my experience. When I pray, I ask God to draw people I am working on toward him. And I pray for victory in the execution of my duty.

Here’s George Washington praying:

George Washington and Old Nelson pray

You can read more about George Washington and his triumph against the odds at the battle of Trenton here.

And an American soldier praying:

American soldier prays

And everybody should know about the General Patton weather prayer at Bastogne:

Here’s the prayer.

Do the right thing. Focus on your mission – to know and love God in Christ, and to know and love others. Don’t think about your own needs. Don’t ask God to make you happy. You have no right to be happy.

Here’s a simple guide to prayer from Campus Crusade for Christ.

MUST-READ: The difference that Christianity makes in personal relationships

One of the neat things about Christianity is the way that it transforms the way you relate to other people.

How do you relate to other people if you are an atheist? Well, on atheism, there isn’t any way you ought to be that is independent of your own personal preferences. And there isn’t anyway other people ought to be, either. Instead, atheists tend to reduce relationships down to the level of making themselves happy. On an atheistic view, the purpose of life is to pursue happiness, and relationships with other people are just another part of pursuing happiness. Atheists will look at people as a means to help them achieve happiness in this life.

But things are different on Christianity. When Christians start to act on their belief that the Christian worldview is true, they have a completely different view of how they should relate to other people. Rather than trying to dominate them or using them for pleasure, we instead look at other people as God’s creatures who are made for a relationship with God. And this applies regardless of whether the person is ugly or pretty, young or old, short or tall, rich or poor. Everybody has to know God, and it becomes the Christian’s job to help with that.

Consider this post by Laura at GOP Refugee/Pursuing Holiness, where she explains how she’s had to put her own desires second in order to take a long-term, God-centered view of her relationships.

Excerpt:

There’s no time like the holidays to bring out the Jerry Springer in people.  A time to gather, a time to remember… all those decades of past slights and offenses, real and imagined.  We’re currently undergoing such a drama in my family.  In years past, I would have enthusiastically engaged in it, fiercely defending my position and making a case to show why I’m right, dammit, and you need to [stop, start, resume] [behaving a certain way.] Over the years, my perspective has gradually changed as I slog through this pursuit of holiness.  I’m less concerned with my own honor and more with God’s.

Wow! Go read the whole thing. This is something that Christians often struggle with that non-Christians never imagine is even an issue. Every day Christians deny their own desire to be selfish in relationships so that they don’t negatively impact other people’s vertical relationship with God. It’s hard for anybody to just let these interpersonal squabbles go unanswered. But we Christians are duty-bound to consider what God wants in relationships. We don’t want to distract you non-Christians from the main issue of being reconciled with God through Christ!