Thanksgiving Is a Special Holiday
The very first Thanksgiving dates back to the year 1621. The purpose of this American Christian tradition, as Gov. William Bradford of the 1620 Plymouth colony stated, was to render Thanksgiving to the Almighty God for all of his blessings. Through the years, government changed the date of Thanksgiving several times.
George Washington set aside Thursday, Feb. 19, 1795 as a National Day of Thanksgiving. He wrote a famous National Thanksgiving Proclamation that said, in part, we need to acknowledge our many obligations to God for his many blessings upon us. On Oct. 3, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed, by an Act of Congress, the last Thursday of November be set aside as a day of Thanksgiving. Lincoln said that the whole American people should give thanks to Almighty God for all his blessings and mercies toward us throughout the year.
Growing up in West Virginia as a child, I remember Thanksgiving morning as a time for playing football with friends and watching the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. We would have a turkey dinner with family and friends, then watch college or pro football games on the television set. We spent the rest of the day visiting with friends and reuniting with those long missed. I also can remember the smells of the day.
My late mother was an excellent cook, and I woke up to the special smells of the day. What happy memories. When Thanksgiving was over I knew it was time to begin to prepare for Christmas. I was blessed to have had wonderful, loving parents who served as my role models. With my parents passing I knew at some point my wife and I had to create our own Thanksgiving memories for our children.
In my opinion, Thanksgiving is a time when we should get away from technology and, in a quiet moment, truly give thanks for what we have in life. As career professionals in the nonprofit arena, we know that material things are not important. We also know we are dependent on so many elements inside and outside our control for complete success and happiness. Our career success is built on long processes and years of trial and error in our jobs. We thrive for relationships whether they happen once or last more than 30 years. We also know the majority of our relationships are institutional-based, depending upon what uniform you are wearing at that moment in time.
I give thanks for many things. I will share a few of them with you. Take some time to create your own list and stop to thank people in your lives.
A Starter List of Thanks That Begin With the Letter ‘F’
- Family: In our profession we cannot hope to achieve total success unless we can give 100 percent of our focus to our jobs. I am blessed with a loving and supportive family who allows me to thrive in my job.
- Friends: I have friendships ranging from one month to more than 50 years in duration. Friends truly know you and keep you grounded. They know and have a certain perception of you based upon their interactions with you. True friends keep it real and tell it like it is all of the time.
- Faith: It is important to have a strong body, mind and spirit in your life. Life is hard, and at times we need help from other sources to keep positive attitudes in check. Find a church and involve yourself in the church.
- Flag: Give thanks for the fact that we live in a country that is free. In today’s world of chaos, we are blessed to continually pledge to a flag that means something to us and to those who have died to give us our liberty.
- Future: Give blessings that you have the ability to look ahead to seek a better future for your children and the organizations you serve.
- Foundation: Stop for a minute and give thanks for your staff, administration, volunteers, donors and all of those in your organizational orbit who thrive to make programs and services available for those that need you every day.
I love Thanksgiving because it is a special and reflective holiday. We do not have to worry about buying candy or presents. We just create a simple a meal for everyone to enjoy. Seek family, friends and loved ones to reflect and enjoy their company this year. Give thanks for the many blessings you receive. What makes our profession special is the fact we give thanks every day for the privilege of serving others. I am also thankful that I can share my thoughts and reflections with you each week!
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.
Duke has extensive experience as a nonprofit practitioner, author, lecturer and consultant. He has been a contributing author to NonProfit PRO for the last 11 years. He has been a long-standing member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals where he was previously named the AFP Indiana Chapter Fundraising Executive of the Year and has held the CFRE designation for many years.
He received his doctorate degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis in education administration, master's degree from Marshall University with an emphasis in public administration and a bachelor's degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis in marketing/management. He has also completed post graduate work at the University of Louisville.
He is currently executive director of development for The Salvation Army Indiana Division in Indianapolis, Indiana. Contact Duke at firstname.lastname@example.org or 317-224-1029.