By Jon Bloom, Desiring God
The tradition of setting aside a day to give thanks extends back to the earliest days of the U.S. The Continental Congress proclaimed a day of national thanksgiving in 1777, and President George Washington proclaimed one in 1789. After 1815, the practice disappeared until 1863, when President Abraham Lincoln established an annual national holiday of Thanksgiving to be observed on the last Thursday in November.
This tradition is a merciful common grace from God. It’s for our joy! So before the flurry of housecleaning and feast preparation, before we switch into the autopilot of our familiar food and football traditions and the day passes in a caloric, but largely thankless blur, let’s think about the feast of Thanksgiving so that we eat the right things.
The Real Feast
The traditional American Thanksgiving meal featuring turkey and all the fixings that go with it is my favorite meal. Period. That may or may not be true for our American readers. But eating something you love on Thanksgiving is exactly what you should do because Thanksgiving is not about the feast of food. Thanksgiving is about feasting on the manifold, abundant, overflowing, all-sufficient grace of God in all that he is for us and all that he has done, is doing, and promises to do for us. An abundant, delicious feast of food is intended to be a symbol, a small picture, a momentary experience of what God’s grace is like. It is to help us “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8).
In other words, the food is meant to fuel our thanksgiving, not be the focus of thanksgiving.