November is one of my favorite months. Sadly, the world seems to want to skip over what the month stands for.
In the early days, the Pilgrims held a celebration of the harvest. The amazing thing about the first settlers is that they praised God for what they were blessed with, even when times were tough.
Many do not know the history of how the harvest celebration became what today we call Thanksgiving.
With a proclamation by George Washington after a request by Congress, Thanksgiving has been celebrated nationally on and off since 1789.
Thomas Jefferson chose not to observe the holiday, and its celebration was irregular until the presidency of Abraham Lincoln, when Thanksgiving became a federal holiday in 1863, during the American Civil War.
From 1939 to 1941, during the presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt, the holiday changed dates. However, from 1942 on, as proclaimed by Congress, Thanksgiving has been on the fourth Thursday in November.
In my opinion, the Founding Fathers saw the importance of coming together with gratitude.
Each November I embrace fall, and it has also become tradition to embrace thankfulness, being grateful for my blessings. I’m sad to say that this year has had some challenges. However, paraphrasing John 12:35, I continue to “stay out of the darkness and seek the light.”
It seems there is a lot of darkness in our world and we must seek out the light. One way I seek out the light is to keep a gratitude journal, a practice of thankfulness to set my intentions toward thanksgiving.
Why is everything a rush these days? We are such a culture of I want it now, I wanted it yesterday, and we are never satisfied with what we have. By the way, yours truly is not perfect. Sometimes I need a wake-up call to slow down and give thanks for my blessings. Thus the journal.
On Oct. 26, The Hallmark Channel launched its weekly Christmas movies. Really? I’m not going to lie, I do like a good, sappy Hallmark movie, but not Christmas in October.
The Hallmark Music Channel, playing nonstop Christmas music, was also launched on Sirius. Again, too soon.
And while I love Mariah Carey’s Christmas music, her declaration on Nov. 1 that it was “officially Christmas” made me sad.
Each day I take time to write down something I’m grateful for. Being thankful, mindful and appreciative can change our mindset. Or, take a moment to read a daily devotion. This year, I’ve read Maria Shriver’s “I’ve Been Thinking,” which has short, daily inspirations. Quick, yet meaningful.
On Shriver’s website, a writer named Diana Butler Bass has an article entitled “I’ve been thinking … choosing gratitude as a way of life.”
“To choose gratitude is to hear an inner urging toward thanks, to be aware of the grace in life, and to respond,” Bass writes.
And in the words of Mother Teresa, “Life is an opportunity, benefit from it. Life is beauty, admire it. Life is a dream, realize it. Life is a challenge, meet it. Life is a duty, complete it. Life is a game, play it. Life is a promise, fulfill it. Life is sorrow, overcome it. Life is a song, sing it. Life is a struggle, accept it. Life is a tragedy, confront it. Life is an adventure, dare it. Life is luck, make it. Life is too precious, do not destroy it. Life is life, fight for it.”
Take time to look at your life, the good, the bad and the ugly. We get one life and we get one month a year that focuses on being thankful and grateful.
I refuse to go silently into the night without pleading my cause with you, dear readers.
Embrace November, practice kindness, be grateful — and in all things celebrate Thanksgiving.