Thursday, October 01, 2015

Thanksgiving – Looking Back Leads Us Forward. by Eleanor Shepherd

Reading the history of how Thanksgiving celebrations arose in our country, we discover reasons to celebrate and give thanks.  The aboriginal occupants of this country were actually celebrating the bounty of their harvest long before Europeans arrived on Canadian shores. They were joined by the early European settlers whose thanksgiving often focused on some special good fortune.  For example, in 1578 the explorer Martin Frobisher, in whose honour the northern bay he discovered is named, was able to offer his thanksgiving for survival of the long journey that he safely made, seeking the longed for passage from Europe to Asia through what we now know is North America. 
Recognizing this part of our history at Thanksgiving we can add our gratitude for our own survival during the difficult times in our lives or for safety as we travel over the highways and waterways that have spread out over that long sought passage from east to west to east.  Applying this to our live we can deepen our appreciation for the new discoveries that we make as we pursue our journey of life, never knowing what we are going to encounter with confidence in God’s faithfulness to accompany us all along the way.
            Historically, celebrations of Thanksgiving have often followed noteworthy historical events.  It is interesting to note that the tradition of a yearly Day to celebrate Thanksgiving in Canada was initiated by refugees who were fleeing from the Civil War in the United States. The habit developed to have a theme each year beyond rejoicing in the blessings of an abundant harvest.  Included in Thanksgiving celebration themes were the golden and diamond jubilees of the reign of Queen Victoria and the coronation of King Edward VII.    

            The noteworthy times in our own lives can become the theme for our Thanksgiving celebrations like the birth of a child or grandchild.  The safe arrival of that child and the joy of cuddling the precious little one with all their promise and potential evoke thanksgiving. Our Thanksgiving celebration can focus on the celebration of a wedding when we realize the value of the love that entwines our lives and the gift that our spouse is to us.  Even funerals when we forget the shortcomings of the one who has left us and remember with gratitude all they contributed to our lives becomes a Thanksgiving event.  Holiday times when we can break from our regular routine and enjoy family time or do something special together and appreciate the joys of family and friends bring forth Thanksgiving. Noteworthy life events create themes for our Thanksgiving.
            Historically, in Canada, from the end of the First World War until 1930, both Armistice Day and Thanksgiving Day were celebrated on the Monday closest to November 11, the anniversary of the official end of hostilities in World War I. Then in 1931, Armistice Day was renamed Remembrance Day and Thanksgiving Day was moved to a Monday in October. Since 1957, Thanksgiving Day has always been held on the second Monday in October.
            As Canadians we love peace.  It is appropriate for us that Thanksgiving be associated with armistice. We know the gratitude of living in a time of relative freedom from warfare for most of us.  Our service people have largely been involved in peace keeping missions since the Second World War.  A thanksgiving subject for us is that our lives have not been interrupted by the social devastation that accompanies war. 
            The historical roots of this fall holiday give rise to themes for our Thanksgiving.  As I think of the history of my own life, I plan to take some time over the Thanksgiving weekend to chronicle some of the events on my time line.  I can use each event as an opportunity to express gratitude and thanksgiving to God for some particular aspect of it that has blessed me.  This will remind me how God has been present in my life, giving me what is good and I will have courage to move into the future, confident that whatever awaits me He will be there working for my good.  Want to join me?
Word Guild Award
Word Guild Award


Peter Black said...

Thank you Eleanor. I've enjoyed this cornucopia of historical and cultural information, and also your heartwarming Thanksgiving insights. Interesting pics, too. ~~+~~

Ed Hird+ said...

Very insightful look at Thanksgiving Day, Eleanor. Thanks.

Ed Hird+

Ed Hird+ said...

I was so impressed by this article, Eleanor, that I just reposted it to my 12,000+ social media followers on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.

Ed Hird+

Glynis said...

Well done, Eleanor. I feel like I just had a great history lesson and for that I am grateful! There really is so much to be thankful for sometimes it is hard to know where to begin the list. Great thoughts.

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