Wikipedia states, “The first Thanksgiving feast lasted three days providing enough food for 53 pilgrims and 90 Native Americans. The feast consisted of fowl, venison, fish, lobster, clams, berries, fruit, pumpkin, and squash. William Bradford noted that, "besides waterfowl, there was great store of wild turkeys, of which they took many”, probably gave rise to the American tradition of eating turkey at Thanksgiving.”
It is also a tradition for US Presidents to issue a pardon to the White House Thanksgiving Turkeys. Since about 1947 the National Turkey Federation has presented the President of the United States with one (and in recent years - two) live turkey(s) in a ceremony known as the National Thanksgiving Turkey Presentation. The live turkeys are pardoned and live out the rest of their days on a farm or, since 2005, sent to either Disneyland in California or Walt Disney World in Florida, where they serve as the honorary grand marshals of Disney's Thanksgiving Day Parade.
As Christians, we acknowledge God’s goodness and provision in our expression of Thanksgiving. God’s Word implores us to give thanks to Him. Both Old and New Testament books of the Bible encourage us to have an attitude of gratitude. Psalm 50:14 tells us to, “Offer to God thanksgiving.” Psalm 95:2 says, “Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving…” The Apostle Paul, in Philippians 4:6 declares, “…in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” We are to develop and display a grateful heart.
One of my favorite psalms is 136. It begins with verses 1-3 - thanking God for His Goodness. "Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. Oh, give thanks to the God of gods! For His mercy endures forever. Oh, give thanks to the Lord of lords! For His mercy endures forever." So much we have to be thankful for! Our families, our health, our jobs, our homes, and our ability to worship unhindered.
Thank Jesus for your salvation. If we had nothing else to be thankful for, that would be sufficient. Oh, how we thank Him for rescuing us from certain destruction and eternal doom. In II Corinthians 9:15 Paul says this, “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!”
This Thanksgiving, make it a priority to focus on faith, family, and giving. The blessing we receive from meeting the needs of someone else is huge. Give to your local shelter, or volunteer your time. Do something different as a family, and make a memory by serving others in your community. Help distribute gift baskets at church to the needy, or invite a co-worker who doesn't have immediate family nearby for a home-cooked meal and fellowship.
It’s fun to start your own family traditions for the Thanksgiving holiday. Kids can make homemade decorations, and you can bake special pies and loaf cakes from the abundance of the fall fruits and vegetables. Watch the annual Macy’s Day Parade together. Head outside and take a nature walk, collecting leaves, pine cones, and other trinkets to display as a centerpiece on your table. Involve kids in the dinner menu selection and preparations. Say a family blessing and let each member shares what they are thankful for. There are so many wonderful ways to celebrate this special day.