Since those of us who reside in the United States are celebrating Thanksgiving Day in just two days, I thought a little history regarding the day would be helpful for carrying out your celebration more in keeping with the reason for which it was originally instituted.
Some useful facts are:
1.) George Washington proclaimed the first nationwide thanksgiving celebration in America marking November 26, 1789 as "a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favours of Almighty God." This was a one time observance and had more to do with the victory over the British, the establishment of the United States as a nation, and the growing prosperity of the nation.
2.) Thanksgiving as we know it today did not became a nationally observed annual holiday until 1864 (see below).
3.) It was instituted by Abraham Lincoln as a day to offer thanks to God out of gratitude for Northern (Union) military victories that seemed to suggest the war would soon be over, prosperity despite war, and the re-union of North and South an impending reality.
4.) It included an admonition to, "reverently humble ourselves in the dust AND FROM THERE offer penitent and fervent prayers to [Almighty God as] the Great Disposer of Events."
5.) The focus on the Pilgrims, strongly prominent in past years, but less prominent in our day, came to be the focus over time (after the Civil War ended), since it would have been hard for Southerners to celebrate a national day of thanksgiving in which they are referred to as, "the enemy, who is of our own household."
6.) The first Thanksgiving celebrations were observed by the Pilgrims (celebrated in 1621, 1623, and 1631). The first celebration included 52 colonists [consisting of both Saints (or believers in Jesus), and Strangers (or unbelievers)] and 90 Wampanoag Indians. It apparently lasted three days.
7.) The food they ate at that first celebration included: "goose, duck, swan, eels, clams, lobster, deer, Indian corn, chestnuts, gooseberries, and beer."
Proclamation 118 - Thanksgiving Day
October 20, 1864
By the President of the United States of America
It has pleased Almighty God to prolong our national life another year, defending us with His guardian care against unfriendly designs from abroad and vouchsafing to us in His mercy many and signal victories over the enemy, who is of our own household. It has also pleased our Heavenly Father to favor as well our citizens in their homes as our soldiers in their camps and our sailors on the rivers and seas with unusual health. He has largely augmented our free population by emancipation and by immigration, while He has opened to us new sources of wealth and has crowned the labor of our workingmen in every department of industry with abundant rewards. Moreover, He has been pleased to animate and inspire our minds and hearts with fortitude, courage, and resolution sufficient for the great trial of civil war into which we have been brought by our adherence as a nation to the cause of freedom and humanity, and to afford to us reasonable hopes of an ultimate and happy deliverance from all our dangers and afflictions:
Now, therefore, I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, do hereby appoint and set apart the last Thursday in November next as a day which I desire to be observed by all my fellow-citizens, wherever they may then be, as a day of thanksgiving and praise to Almighty God, the beneficent Creator and Ruler of the Universe. And I do further recommend to my fellow-citizens aforesaid that on that occasion they do reverently humble themselves in the dust and from thence offer up penitent and fervent prayers and supplications to the Great Disposer of Events for a return of the inestimable blessings of peace, union, and harmony throughout the land which it has pleased Him to assign as a dwelling place for ourselves and for our posterity throughout all generations.
In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.
Done at the city of Washington, this 20th day of October, A.D. 1864, and of the Independence of the United States the eighty-ninth.
By the President: ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State.
It is my hope that you might be moved to spend the day as Lincoln first envisioned it:
"as a day of thanksgiving and praise to Almighty God, the beneficent Creator and Ruler of the Universe. And I do further recommend to my fellow-citizens aforesaid that on that occasion they do reverently humble themselves in the dust, and from thence offer up penitent and fervent prayers and supplications to the Great Disposer of Events for a return of the inestimable blessings of peace, union, and harmony throughout the land..."
In Grateful Praise to our Abundantly Gracious and Generous God, Pastor Jeff