In 1939, in the midst of the Great Depression, President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared that Thanksgiving should be moved up to the next to the last Thursday of November.
Since tradition at that time prevented retailers from promoting Christmas before Thanksgiving, Roosevelt hoped that, by changing the date of Thanksgiving, he might extend the pre-Christmas retail season, increase sales, and boost the depressed economy.
However, he didn’t have the power to mandate the nation’s holiday schedule. That year 23 states celebrated Thanksgiving on the third Thursday in November, while 22 states celebrated on the fourth Thursday. Texas celebrated both Thursdays as holidays.
Roosevelt’s action became known as “Franksgiving.” I wonder what Roosevelt would think of the more modern tradition of retailers promoting Christmas items even before Halloween.
No matter which day we celebrate on, Thanksgiving give us the opportunity to take stock of our blessings. We gain a wider perspective on our lives and see our losses in a broader context of all that we do have. Most of us are thankful for the same things—our faith, our family, our health, our community, food and shelter, and the ability to help others who are less fortunate. The list mirrors our priorities in life. We could take it one step further. Let’s take some time to review how well we are nurturing what we value most in life.
• Do you spend enough time with your family to truly connect?
• How do you nurture your spiritual life?
• Are you taking care of the body God gave you with good food, exercise and enough rest?
• Do you treat others with a love and compassion consistent with the faith or virtues you profess?
How we live our lives determines the state of our personal wealth—our spiritual capital. Taking time to consider how we might strengthen ourselves and build upon our blessings is something all of us can do to positively impact our lives, our families and our community.
We may not control Wall Street, but each one of us has a sphere of influence, a life to lead. Roosevelt was well-intentioned in trying to help our economy recover, but let’s not miss why giving thanks is important in the first place. Let’s not forget why President Abraham Lincoln first declared a national day of giving thanks to God for the blessings of our country. Lincoln’s only motive seems to have been a desire to give our nation, fractured by the Civil War, a chance to take a deep breath, share a meal with family and friends and be grateful.
This Thanksgiving, let’s pause to give thanks for our lives and our other blessings, but let’s also make plans to nurture those blessings and make the most of them, for ourselves and for others.