The Elks Lodge is keeping the community in Thanksgiving with their annual free feast on Nov. 22.
Thanksgiving, as celebrated in the early history of this country, was a time when a community came together to celebrate a successful harvest. Everyone in the community that could would take part.
The celebration began as a way to thank God for the bountiful harvest and a way to socialize with friends and neighbors who were part of the community. Early Plymouth Colony in Massachusetts settlers were grateful to Squanto, the Native American and former British slave who helped them through tough times by teaching them to grow corn, among other things. The settlers might not have survived those early times without such help.
Our first president, George Washington, issued a Thanksgiving proclamation in 1789 which assigned Thursday, Nov. 26, as a day devoted to giving thanks to our creator.
He wrote: "Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be -- That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks --for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country...for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in the tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed...and also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions -- to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually...To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us -- and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best."
During the first 30 years of our history as a nation, six national proclamations were issued.
The declarations started being issued yearly after President Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a federal holiday, as a ‘prayerful day of Thanksgiving" on the last Thursday in November. It was President Franklin D. Roosevelt who set the date for Thanksgiving as the fourth Thursday of November in 1939. Interestingly, it took Congress until 1941 to add its approval.
Thanksgiving has become a day for family and friends to come together and give thanks with a festive meal.
For 78 percent of workers, Thanksgiving has become a four-day holiday celebration.
The Payson Elks Lodge is trying to make sure that everyone can celebrate this day of thanks with a community feast. We applaud the Elks and all the volunteers who make this community celebration possible. It is only through the hard work of dozens of volunteers that this event can happen. If anyone wants to volunteer to help out the Elks, we are sure that help would be appreciated.
Volunteers are welcome to help the Elks present this special meal this coming Thursday. Assistance is needed from 9:30 a.m. to noon; 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.; and from 1:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. Call Becky at (928) 476-3678 if you can help. Dinner for the volunteers will be served at 3 p.m.
The Elks have even made sure that those who are homebound will have a feast on Thanksgiving Day by offering home delivery.
It is important for us as a community to sit back and look at the success and well-being this community has. Nothing is ever perfect. We have a healthy and growing community which benefits everyone who lives here or visits.
We should be true to the meaning of Thanksgiving this season, enjoy our friends and family and put our differences behind us.
If you don't want to cook that turkey this year or just feel like joining some of your neighbors, take a drive down to the Elks and don't forget to come early and help out with some of the preparations.