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The Best Thanksgiving

By Jeffry Boatright

Throughout the decades of cinema and television, Hollywood has offered quite a range of entertaining films revolving around our Thanksgiving holiday. Since that very first Thanksgiving, as celebrated by the pilgrims and Native Americans in 1621, food has played an integral part in the celebration, and film producers have done a fantastic job in depicting America’s fondness for preparing and serving Thanksgiving feasts that are fit for a king.

Many of us will cherish another Thanksgiving with loved ones.

Billy Cribbs of Live Oak, along with long-time friend Bill Warner, expressed gratitude for family and friends.

The sentiment of devotion to family echoes throughout the community as residents place tremendous value on being with family. “I’m very thankful for my close-knit family,” Jennifer Kinsey of Suwannee County emphasized.

Suwannee County Supervisor of Elections Glenda B. Williams and Tina Nobles enthusiastically reiterated the importance of home and spending time with family.

That 1621 Thanksgiving in Plymouth, which has generally been accepted as America’s first Thanksgiving, established the tradition of our Thanksgiving celebration in the United States. It is a celebration that includes feasts, fellowship and giving thanks to God for His abundant provisions. Some historians and biblical scholars might even draw a parallel between our annual Thanksgiving holiday and the Feast of Tabernacles that was outlined in the Old Testament book of Leviticus.

The Feast of Tabernacles was a time set aside following the fall harvest for the Jewish nation to submit offerings to the Lord. The solemn assembly included a burnt offering, a meat offering, a sacrifice and drink offerings, as recorded in the 23rd chapter of Leviticus. In addition, the children of Israel were instructed to celebrate and rejoice before the Lord God for seven days.

History tells us the original Thanksgiving in Plymouth lasted for three days. President Lincoln’s 1863 proclamation, however, implored citizens in every part of the United States to observe the last Thursday of November as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our Father in the Heavens. The national holiday was celebrated on that day every year until 1939, when Franklin D. Roosevelt moved the holiday up a week. Roosevelt did so in an attempt to stimulate retail sales during the Great Depression. His plan, however, was passionately opposed, and sarcastically referred to as Franksgiving. In 1941, Roosevelt reluctantly signed a bill, setting aside the fourth Thursday in November for Thanksgiving.

As a nation, we continue the cherished tradition of celebrating Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday in November, but the holiday has somewhat transformed into a season of its own. With today’s fuel-efficient automobiles and advanced highway system, many people take advantage of their extended time away from the workplace to visit family, travel or simply take a vacation. Others continue with such interests as sporting events, hunting and shopping, all of which have become traditional activities for many.

In a sense, many of us seem to be in pursuit of that best Thanksgiving ever. Is it possible that we are in search of happiness and contentment in places outside of our normal lives? Certainly, there is nothing wrong with recharging ourselves over Thanksgiving with activities that we find joy in, but will that alone fulfill our inward desire to genuinely celebrate Thanksgiving?

Perhaps Abraham Lincoln prescribed the essential ingredient needed in fully and solemnly celebrating Thanksgiving. In an excerpt from his Thanksgiving proclamation, Lincoln urged Americans to pray for God’s 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 very need for healing and restoration that Lincoln recognized 155 years ago exists today, more than ever. Furthermore, to acknowledge God’s provisions, as the Native Americans and Pilgrims did nearly 400 years ago, is just as critical and pleasing to God today as it was then.

Perhaps we can all find that perfect piece of pie, cherished time with family, trophy buck, exciting ball game or even a moment of tranquility alone. Regardless of where we are or what we’re enjoying, let’s not forget to give thanks to God and petition His continued blessings upon our homes, schools, military, churches and nation. It just might be the most fulfilling and best Thanksgiving yet.

Bill Warner (left) and long-time friend Billy Cribbs (right) remain thankful for family and friends this Thanksgiving.
-Photo by Jeffry Boatright

L-R: Jennifer Kinsey, Glenda Williams and Tina Nobles plan to observe Thanksgiving with family.
-Photo by Jeffry Boatright