In 1789, at the behest of Congress, America's first President, George Washington, issued a Thanksgiving Proclamation in which he recommended: "to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness."
Over two hundred years later, gratitude remains a cornerstone in pursuing meaningful and happy lives. It is widely believed that the practice of recognizing and appreciating positive aspects of one's life can have a transformative effect on the individual. Some even consider the positive emotional response to experiences and people a virtue. The state or continuous practice of gratitude, it is said, will pave the way for more blessings, experiences, and opportunities to be grateful for.
By his proclamation, President Washington, established what began as a harvest festival as a non-religious holiday. Interestingly, the state-instituted holiday is not about an apparent display of festivity or commercial extravagance. Over time, people have added their own traditions and rituals making it the second most popular holiday in the U.S.
Thanksgiving celebrations remain rooted in the very ethos for which it was established. It is a time to reflect on and appreciate what is often considered the basic unit of a healthy society – family. Around a festive meal that signifies abundance, families have created traditions and rituals to show appreciation for the people and good fortunes.
Through the centuries, the land settled by the Pilgrims has evolved into a superpower that remains a beacon of hope for those fleeing oppression and others seeking a better life. The fabric of a close-knit community based on mutual responsibility and cooperation remains vital in American society.
As our Founding Fathers proclaimed, Thanksgiving is a prompt to acknowledge the goodness that often graces our lives amidst the hustle. A simple gesture of saying "thank you" or expressing gratitude for a person, opportunity, experience, emotion, or thing cannot and must not be discounted.
The practice reveals that underneath all that separates and divides us, we are the same. Everyone seeks happiness and health, acceptance and affection, wealth and well-being, and fun and fulfillment.
Thanksgiving prompts us to appreciate the simple joys, have faith in the resilience of the human spirit and celebrate the love that sees us through the challenging times. As we celebrate the blessings in our lives and those that make this earthly journey joyful, let us remember to carry the spirit of gratitude beyond the Thanksgiving feast and infuse the coming days with a dose of appreciation and empathy.
May the enduring spirit of gratitude unite us all. Happy Thanksgiving!
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