Since 1623, North Americans have taken time at the completion of the harvest to give thanks to God for His abundant provision. Okay I get that here in Wood Buffalo our cash crop bitumen, is a continual harvest. So all the more to be thankful for!!
It’s true that Thanksgiving including turkey and pumpkin pie has roots that reach back almost 400 years to earlier colonial New England, but hey we Canadians grab a good holiday when we see one! And of course we moved it forward six weeks or so to compensate for our hardier climate.
But what you may not know is that some believe Thanksgiving is actually a Canadian invention. Some historians have suggested that the first Canadian Thanksgiving predates the arrival of the Pilgrims to the “new world.” They point to the English explorer Martin Frobisher who had been trying to find a northern passage to the orient. He did not succeed but he did start a little settlement in what is now Canada. And in 1578, he held a formal ceremony in Newfoundland to give thanks to God for surviving that long, cold, arduous journey. Doesn’t that sound simply Canadian!
Over the years the Thanksgiving holiday in Canada has landed on different dates. However all that got settled on January 31st, 1957 when the Canadian Parliament proclaimed that Thanksgiving is to be: “A Day of General Thanksgiving to Almighty God for the bountiful harvest with which Canada has been blessed … and is to be observed on the 2nd Monday in October.”
Thanksgiving is the ability to express gratitude and appreciation for the many gifts and blessings that come our way from living in a blest land like Canada. From the earliest of times, this expression of gratitude and appreciation has been given as worship to our Creator God, echoing the words of the Psalmist, “Give thanks to the Lord for His unfailing love and His wonderful deeds.”
This is my second thanksgiving here in Fort McMurray. I’m loving living here! I’m truly thankful to live in this city of opportunity. Living in the midst of the rugged beauty of the vast northern outdoors simply jazzes me. Even when I’m tempted to whine in the midst of long lines of traffic in what should be a simple drive from Timberlea to Thickwood, I use that extra time to be thankful for the unparalleled opportunity this city gives me to develop friendships with people from all across this country and from right around the world. The way I see it, we live in one of the most interesting places in the world to live, with some of the most diverse people you’ll meet anywhere. I don’t take that for granted. And for those of us who live here with family, that’s double sweet!!
Sure life is not always easy. Yet even in the midst of the tragedy and sorrow that mars so much of our world, I still see the fingerprints of God gracefully turning up, and so I give thanks.
Whether you agree with my perspective or not that God is the creator and sustainer of our lives and world, even without such faith, it is good to have an attitude of gratitude. We’re talking the ability to look beyond yourself and be thankful for the gifts that ultimately have come your way, unearned and undeserved. There is just something healing and healthy about being able to be grateful.
So do have a wonderful thanksgiving. And remember, it’s been a Canadian thing to do since Martin Frobisher landed in Newfoundland in 1578! And if you get a chance, get out into our magnificent outdoors and enjoy the beauty of this part of our country and give thanks to our Creator.
This post originally appeared in the October 11, (2013) edition of Fort McMurray Today.