Thanksgiving Day is this week. It apparently comes as a surprise to my Mother when I remind her to please bring the stuffing on Thursday.
“That’s not this week!” Yes, Mom. It is.
Living in any western democracy is a feat of luck, let alone being born in the United States. The exhaustive list of “what to be thankful for” is astonishingly long if you consider a global context. My current, narrow, personal context includes listing such luxuries as premium tissue, a warm home, clothing and proper nutrition during the past week of a horrific cold (7 days, and counting). In the depth of my misery, I could not imagine feeling this bad and living in a make-shift home because of persecution, war or natural disaster. I pray for feeling better tomorrow and then reach for the next premium-priced disposable hanky.
Annually since George Washington’s 1789 inaugural proclamation for a national Day of Thanksgiving, the sitting President of the United States throws in their gratuitous two cents. I find FDR’s Proclamation of 1933 to be particularly timeless (and thought-provoking). I read it and think of not only my outrageously good fortune, but of the fortunes of refugees, disaster survivors and even Occupiers. Because, really, we’re all in this together.
THANKSGIVING DAY – 1933
BY The President of the United States
I, Franklin D. Roosevelt, President of the United States of America, do set aside and appoint Thursday, the thirtieth day of November 1933, to be a Day of Thanksgiving for all our people.
May we on that day in our churches and in our homes give humble thanks for the blessings bestowed upon us during the year past by Almighty God.
May we recall the courage of those who settled a wilderness, the vision of those who founded the Nation, the steadfastness of those who in every succeeding generation have fought to keep pure the ideal of equality of opportunity and hold clear the goal of mutual help in time of prosperity as in time of adversity.
May we ask guidance in more surely learning the ancient truth that greed and selfishness and striving for undue riches can never bring lasting happiness or good to the individual or to his neighbors.
May we be grateful for the passing of dark days; for the new spirit of dependence one on another; for the closer unity of all parts of our wide land; for the greater friendship between employers and those who toil; for a clearer knowledge by all nations that we seek no conquests and ask only honorable engagements by all peoples to respect the lands and rights of their neighbors; for the brighter day to which we can win through by seeking the help of God in a more unselfish striving for the common bettering of mankind.
In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.
Done at the City of Washington this twenty-first day of November, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and thirty-three and of the Independence of the United States of America the one hundred and fifty-eighth.
FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT
For more Presidential Proclamations visit the Pilgrim Hall Museum website.