During the brutal winter of 1620-21, Miles Standish, the English military officer hired by the Pilgrims as military advisor for Plymouth Colony and one of the Mayflower passengers, played a leading role in the administration and defense of the colony. His wife, Rose, suffered from sickness and fever throughout most of the winter, and when he wasn’t stalking game, cutting trees, or guarding against attacks he was by her side. When spring came, only five wives remained of the eighteen who had sailed to Plymouth. Rose was not among them. The golden dreams of a New World that Miles and Rose had cherished together had evaporated into hollow hopes. And yet, that fall, Capt. Standish joined other bereaved Pilgrims in the first Thanksgiving celebration, thanking God for a bountiful harvest.
Over the next 400 years, Thanksgiving in the United States was observed on various dates. From the time of the Founding Fathers until the time of Lincoln, the date Thanksgiving was observed varied from state to state. On December 26, 1941, President Roosevelt signed a law establishing the last Thursday in November as the day to observe and give thanks. Thanksgiving has its historical roots in religious and cultural traditions, and has long been celebrated in a secular manner as well. In Ephesians 5:20 it reads, “Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Life wasn’t meant to always be pleasant or easy. Yet we have so much to be thankful for. America is blessed. We have clean water, reliable electricity, and even the poor enjoy blessings only imagined by those living in some other countries. We have a roof over our heads and food on our tables. We have a great system of education, an incredible health care system, the world’s best military, and the freedom to complain nonetheless. We have the right to worship whoever and whenever we want – or not at all. Each of us has something to be thankful for.
For everyone at Matthiesen, Wickert & Lehrer, S.C., Thanksgiving is far more than a special day on the calendar. We are each reminded to live a life of thanksgiving each day we are given, thankful to God for all of His blessings. Even in the midst of misfortune we can find time and reason to give thanks. Join us this Thanksgiving in giving thanks in the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson: “For each new morning with its light, for rest and shelter of the night; For health and food, for love and friends; for everything Thy goodness sends.”