Friday, November 6, 2009

A Plea for the Old-Time Thanksgiving

I want to share the "Household Topics" column from the November 1896 issue of The Ladies World I have in my collection of vintage ephemera. It was the inspiration for my latest creation in my shop on Etsy. It truly is an appeal for remembering the Old-Time Thanksgiving. As you read it, remember, this was written over 100 years ago as a plea then! How much more do we need it today?
"How many of us who keep Thanksgiving day with feasting and merriment consider the real meaning of the holiday? Of course, we go to church and hear elaborate sermons, admonishing us to 'consider our mercies,' and down in our hearts we form a little prayer of gratitude for the benefits we have received, and of supplication for a continuance of our blessings, and in thus making it our own we do right; but still we are losing something each year in the real sweetness of the day.

The English nation has changed much since its first festive observance of Christmas, but staid and matter-of-fact as the people are, they keep many of their olden customs. Still the men and maids bring in the mistletoe; still the Yule log burns on the English hearth; still the waifs sing beneath the windows and the boar's head is brought in in stately procession.

Compare this with our metamorphosis of Thanksgiving Day. Because we no longer live on puncheon floors and wear homespun, because our life is daily growing more complex, is not an excuse for forsaking the old-time Thanksgiving, but, rather, another reason why we should, for this one day, rest our over-strained nerves and go back to the simple, hearty holiday of old.

When I sit in a fashionable congregation on Thanksgiving Day, my mind sometimes wanders from the discourse. It does not dwell on the plumes and furs and velvets in the polished pews, but goes back to that little log hut in the mighty New England woods, and to the brave men who raised their voices in prayer on that first Thanksgiving Day.

And for what did they give thanks? Not that the Lord had blessed them with bountiful harvests, nor prospered their investments, nor kept their foes from them, but because He had sent the ship of relief, just in time to save them from starvation. They acknowledged His benefits in those days in a way to put to shame our indifferent spirit today. It takes more to put this generation in a thankful frame of mind than it did our Puritan fathers. Our granaries and storehouses must be full to overflowing, but they fervently thanked a kind Providence that they could be allowed 'a peck of Indian meal a week to each person."

To put us in a thankful mood, our ship must be bountifully loaded with luxuries for our own; but the first Day of Thanks was for the ship that came into the offing bearing bread for the starving.

If we could all keep this blessed day in sweet and serene spirit, thankful for what we have, much or little, thankful even for the sorrow that the year has brought to soften and chasten our hearts; if we could throw aside unnecessary forms, making it an unconventional, old-time holiday for our families and for the wanderers that come back to us, what sweet memories, all our own, would be connected to the holiday."

There are yet a number of days left between today and Thanksgiving Day to make careful plans for a true celebration of gratitude, even in the midst of these uncertain times. Blessings to you and yours!


MYSAVIOR said...

This is so appropriate for today's times. I try to be thankful every day of the year.


LLAbbott said...

Beautifully stated. It would hurt no one to be more thankful for what they have and to stop worrying so much on what they want.

Blessings, Laura


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