Thanksgiving Day, as we know it now, did not originate with the Pilgrims, though we have through the years romanticized the connection. There is nothing wrong with romanticizing and connecting the Day with Native Americans welcoming and helping the first refugees to these shores, who, in turn, invited the natives to give thanks with them for their survival in a new land.
While there were occasional thanksgiving celebrations dating back to the early days in Virginia and Massachusetts, there was no established tradition, nor were these by any means national celebrations. It was only in 1863 that President Abraham Lincoln inaugurated Thanksgiving as we know it now, and this has been continued by all presidents ever since.
|Mt. Shasta, California|
The first National Thanksgiving Proclamation of 1863 suggested that the people focus on “the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.” The people are called, in this Proclamation, not only to give thanks for “singular deliverances and blessings,” but also to “humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience.” It asks the people to “commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.”
The first Thanksgiving Proclamation of 1863 seems to me to be appropriate for Thanksgiving Day 2015.