I feel that this is (or should be) one of the most important "days of remembrance" to celebrate on the entire calendar. My personal reasons for this are these:
- This holiday has important signicificance in the history of our country.
- It has important spiritual ramificiations.
I have not personally been in a public school classroom that teaches the history of Thanksgiving, but from what I understand from the children in our neighborhood who attend public school, the teaching is rather anemic and by the older elementary grades it's non-existent. They certainly aren't being taught that the Separatists (Pilgrims) came to America from England to escape RELIGIOUS persecution and to seek freedom to worship as they felt the Bible leads us to.
I'm wondering how much history gets changed in our local public school system so that today's children grow up not even aware of what our forefathers went through fighting for the freedoms that we enjoy (and take for granted, I'm afraid) today. I see many Americans completely oblivious to how good they really have it BECAUSE of those who founded our country on the principles of Scripture, and were willing to give up their fortunes and even their lives to see these freedoms be put into place for us, their great-great-great-great-great (and so on) grandchildren.
I don't want my children taking these freedoms for granted. I want my children to know that Thanksgiving has its historical beginnings back in 1621 when the Pilgrims, after surviving a treacherous voyage from England, and an equally treacherous winter (where half of those who survived the ship voyage died), were finally able to plant and harvest some food the following spring and fall, and learn how to build up food supplies from the local Indians. They lost their first govenor that first year, and the man who they appointed to take his place, William Bradford, declared they needed to have a special time of "Thanksgiving" to God for all He had brought them through and had provided for them.
It wasn't until later, that our first President, the good Mr. George Washington, made an official declaration of Thanksgiving. You can read that here. That declaration was then lost and forgotten for awhile, until our equally-as-good sixteenth President, the honorable Mr. Abraham Lincoln, declared Thanksgiving a national holiday. You can now read that document here.
In 1941, the day we celebrate Thanksgiving officially became the fourth Thursday of November. You can read more about that here.
I also feel that I should be cultivating a spirit of gratefulness (thankfulness) in my children. Not just this one day of the year, but every day of the year. We have been so blessed by our Heavenly Father, and He daily "loadeth us with benefits" (Psalm 68:19). Even when bad things happen to us that change our lives or the way we do things, I want my children to have a spirit of gratefulness for the benefits that can be found in those hard times, as well as the blessings that come out of those times we might not have been able to experience.
So I've been taking them back through the history of this holiday and revisiting some of the hardships that our forefathers endured and how the Lord brought them through those times. We are talking about the little things we are thankful for in each other.
We've been listening to a wonderful story on CD told by "Aunt Carolyn" called "The Pilgrims." I remember my parents playing this for us when I was a child, and it left such a lasting impression on me, so I'm playing it for my children. You can find this tape or CD set here.
We're planning on taking some goodies to our neighbors on Thanksgiving day (or maybe the day before in hopes of catching everyone) to share the truth about why our country celebrates Thanksgiving along with the good news that Jesus Christ has given us so much to be thankful for.
We're also re-visiting Psalm 100 as our monthly scripture memorization together. The older girls remember it from past years, but it's new for the younger ones just joining us this year in our schoolwork. Always refreshing.
I would encourage you to try not to overlook this holiday all together and rush right into Christmas. Are you thinking about all you have to be thankful for? How are teaching your children about this lovely holiday?