Texas History: Multiple Thanksgivings
Happy Thanksgiving! This is a most blessed time of the year when family and friends gather to show gratitude for the good things in life. As Christians, we glorify God for His faithfulness and kindness. God is so good!
When Americans celebrate Thanksgiving, they usually pause to remember the Pilgrims who came from England to establish a colony on the Atlantic shores of Massachusetts. Nov. 22, 1621, has been established as the probable date for their first feast of gratitude.
But Texans have even more possibilities for the first Thanksgiving. Native Texans near Amarillo and the Palo Duro Canyon claim that the first Thanksgiving in Texas was celebrated in 1541 by Spanish conquistador Francisco Vazquez de Coronado. Locals still celebrate the event annually.
Other Texans claim that the first Thanksgiving in Texas was celebrated in 1598 by Don Juan de Onate near El Paso. Annually, over 100 local costumed actors re-enact the original observance of Thanksgiving as a reminder of the notable event.
And then there was the Thanksgiving that was declared by General Sam Houston, the president of the Republic of Texas. He called for a national day of Thanksgiving on March 2, 1842. Houston asked Texans to fast, worship, and celebrate Texas’ victory over Mexico. Further, Sam Houston acknowledged that the people of Texas “have been objects of the peculiar care and interposition (intervention) of a Divine Providence.”
Truthfully, many Texans today take being grateful seriously. Goose Island (Rockport) offers a one-mile “gratitude hike” each November so you can express your thanksgiving in natural surroundings. Sit in the shade of the “Big Tree” that is supposedly over 2,000 years old and end the walk with a gorgeous sunset.
And then there is Thanksgiving Square in downtown Dallas. Dedicated in 1976, it is complete with beautifully landscaped gardens and a non-denominational chapel. Granite markers present various Scriptures including Psalm 100: “Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endures to all generations.”
As we come to the close of the year, it is wise to bow the knee to the Lord and to thank Him for his protection, love, and mercy. The Apostle Paul said it best in Philippians 4:4-7 (NLT), “Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon. Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and THANK him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”