When I was in the second grade, we put on a play for the school about the beginnings of the holiday of Thanksgiving.
From my second grade recollection, a woman named Sarah Hale convinced President Lincoln that the people of the United States needed a special, dedicated day to appreciate the bounty of this land. (Perhaps that’s just my spin on it–I played Sarah Hale. I’m told I was very convincing.)
But according to Wikipedia (perhaps a more reliable source than second-grade-me), Hale did convince Lincoln that nationalizing Thanksgiving was important. At the time, it was celebrated on different days in New England, from October through January, and not really at all in the South.
I’ve long felt a kinship of sorts with Sarah Hale. She convinced the president that it’s important to have a holiday where we take a step back and appreciate our lives. What an amazing concept. A whole day, nationwide, that’s dedicated to saying thanks. Thanks to our parents, who changed our diapers and taught us how to get along with other people. Thanks to our friends, who keep us sane and make us laugh. Thanks to our spouses, who love us for who we are and tolerate our quirks. Thanks to our children, whose wonder at the world around them helps us remember what life’s all about.
Judaism is filled with moments to say thank you. It’s written throughout the prayers we say, the blessings for food, wine, and holidays, and the philosophy of our sages. There’s even a psalm that basically says: It’s good to give thanks (to God). Maybe Sarah Hale was channeling Jewish thought when she convinced Lincoln that we should nationalize Thanksgiving. Because it’s good to give thanks. So, thanks Sarah. Thanks Abe. Thanks Judaism.
And thanks to all of you.