Like a "Hallmark" Christmas, a "Norman Rockwell" Thanksgiving conjures up images of family togetherness, peace and plenty. The scene drawn by America's leading commercial artist to illustrate one of President Roosevelt's Four Freedoms, "Freedom from Want" depicted an older couple placing a fat turkey on a table surrounded by their eager, smiling family.
Painted in 1943 in the throes of World War II, it presented an idyllic image of the kind of unity and abundance projected for the post-war future - an image that would endure and be reproduced endlessly.
In this year's Proclamation by the President for Thanksgiving Day, President Bush referenced the original meaning of this quintessential American holiday.
The Thanksgiving tradition dates back to the earliest days of our society, celebrated in decisive moments in our history and in quiet times around family tables. Nearly four centuries have passed since early settlers gave thanks for their safe arrival and pilgrims enjoyed a harvest feast to thank God for allowing them to survive a harsh winter in the New World.The President seems to have captured the essence of it, as expressed in 1676 by the early settlers in this first proclamation of a day of thanksgiving in Colonial America.
The Holy God having by a long and Continual Series of his Afflictive dispensations in and by the present Warr with the Heathen Natives of this land, written and brought to pass bitter things against his own Covenant people in this wilderness, yet so that we evidently discern that in the midst of his judgements he hath remembered mercy, having remembered his Footstool in the day of his sore displeasure against us for our sins, with many singular Intimations of his Fatherly Compassion, and regard; reserving many of our Towns from Desolation Threatened, and attempted by the Enemy, and giving us especially of late with many of our Confederates many signal Advantages against them, without such Disadvantage to ourselves as formerly we have been sensible of, if it be the Lord's mercy that we are not consumed, It certainly bespeaks our positive Thankfulness, when our Enemies are in any measure disappointed or destroyed; and fearing the Lord should take notice under so many Intimations of his returning mercy, we should be found an Insensible people, as not standing before Him with Thanksgiving, as well as lading him with our Complaints in the time of pressing Afflictions...Speaking of the Colonies, we can give thanks this year that Peter Black, an associate lecturer in law at the Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia, has offered to host Blawg Review #85 on his blog, Freedom to Differ, so we can enjoy this long holiday weekend gathering together in our homes and places of worship, with family, friends, and loved ones, to reinforce the ties that bind us and give thanks for the freedoms and many blessings we enjoy.