Monday, November 21, 2022

The Secret to Thanksgiving is Joy

by Jan Drexler 


Of all the holidays we celebrate, Thanksgiving is one of my top three! I love everything about the day - food, fellowship, PIE! - but most of all,                                                           I love the REASON for this SEASON. 

We might think that the celebration of Thanksgiving started with the Pilgrims, but actually, believers have been setting aside days of Thanksgiving since Old Testament times.

The Pilgrims carried this tradition with them to the Plymouth colony in 1620, celebrating the first Thanksgiving in America in 1621 or 1622.
(For those of you with a calendar, that was 400 years ago!)

Here's one participant's description of that first Thanksgiving feast:

Far from being the joyless, dour folks that some people often portray the Puritans, their lives were full of joy and thanksgiving. Not only one day a year, but every day was filled with thanksgiving. 

The tradition continued with George Washington in 1789:

And with Abraham Lincoln in 1863:

One thing that I noticed about all three of these times of Thanksgiving is that they took place during or just after times of great hardship - the horribly difficult time of starvation and death during the first year after the Pilgrims landed, the war for independence that Americans fought against the British, and the American Civil War. Lincoln's Thanksgiving proclamation was given during the third wearying year of that bloody war.

How could they even think to give thanks during times like those? 

How can we even think to give thanks during times like these?

The secret is joy.

Several years ago I read Ann Voskamp's book, One Thousand Gifts. I was thinking about it recently and was reminded of the year I spent following her advice to find joy.

The exercise was simple. Every day, I was to write down three things that brought me joy. I started in 2014. I created a little diary and I was faithful - through January, February, March...

...and then March 30th came. The day my mother passed away.

This was a challenge - how could I find joy in this circumstance of my life?

The habit to find joy had been ingrained through the previous three months of that year, and I found joy in my thankfulness for the mother God had given me. Day after day I poured out my grief in counting the endless moments of joy I had known with her.

Moments I captured in Thanksgiving and Praise.

This Thanksgiving, my challenge to you is to find Joy in your circumstances, 
and give Thanks to God above!

Have a blessed Thanksgiving Day!


  1. Beautiful post, Jan! Gratitude during hard times doesn't always come naturally but like you said, if you begin to intentionally look for it, joy is the natural outcome. A major part of our church service yesterday was hearing from the congregation and how God is blessing us. It was so moving and makes me think we should do it way more often. Oh, and I'm very grateful to Seekerville because that's how I found our little local writing group and you, my friend! Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

    1. Yes, I'm so glad we found each other here on Seekerville! It's been a blessed several years. :-)
      Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, Glynis!

  2. what a wonderful Thanksgiving post Jan.

    1. Thank you, Mary. A blessed Thanksgiving to you and yours!

  3. Jan, thank you for pouring so much thankfulness into your post. I loved how the pilgrims were thankful for the bounty of their new home. How Washington and Lincoln thanked God for all the blessings this country has received. And the Psalm capped off thankfulness for all the blessings God gives us in good time and bad.

    Have a very blessed Thanksgiving!!!

    Audra, the Anonymous

  4. I hope you have a happy and family-filled Thanksgiving!

    1. Thank you! You, too! Don't let my dear son eat all the pumpkin pie!

  5. Happy Thanksgiving, Jan. This was a great post.

    1. Thank you, Sandy! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

  6. Thanks for a wonderful post! Happy Thanksgiving!!

  7. Oh, I love this unabashed look at a past that's being constantly called into question.... and lovely to see the ongoing celebration of gratitude to God, to faith, to hope and love. Happy Thanksgiving, Jan!


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