America was founded by pilgrims, that is, deeply religious people seeking God, who undertook a perilous sea voyage to reach, at last, Plymouth harbor. Well could they sing Handel’s words, thanking God that he “hast led thy people, safe through the sea.”
Whom do we thank on Thanksgiving? Whom could we thank? We could thank our parents, our neighbors, our employers, our government, and our churches. These people deserve and to some degree need our thanks, but there must be a greater benefactor than just ourselves behind all human benevolence. Abraham Lincoln, in his 1863 Thanksgiving Proclamation, had no doubt whom to thank. “The year that is drawing to its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added….” Even in Lincoln’s day, people were forgetting God, “from whom all blessings flow.” It was good of the president, nay, it was necessary for our president, and exactly proper to his office, to remind the American people that it is God, not man, who blesses us. “No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked these great things,” he continues. “They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.”
If we have no one to thank other than ourselves on this day, then Thanksgiving becomes meaningless. Let us hope that our president, our priests, our parents, and our co-workers wish us a Happy Thanksgiving, directing our gratitude to the Most High God above all. Happy Thanksgiving!