I love the Thanksgiving season with all its colorful traditions.
It’s a time when we reflect on the bounteous blessings bestowed upon us from our Creator as individuals and as a society.
Sarah Josepha Buell, author of “Mary Had a Little Lamb” and editor of American Ladies’ Magazine, unsuccessfully urged four U.S. presidents to make Thanksgiving Day a national holiday.
Over the course of 17 years, presidents Zachary Taylor, Millard Fillmore, Franklin Pierce and James Buchanan all politely brushed her requests aside. However, in the midst of the Civil War, she persuaded Abraham Lincoln to support legislation establishing a national holiday in 1863.
Only Washington’s Birthday and Independence Day were celebrated as national holidays prior to the designation of the fourth Thursday of November as a national day of thanksgiving. The tradition was earlier embedded throughout New England on different days during winter months, but it was not observed in most other states.
Centuries before the pilgrims’ first feast, an official national holiday, and “Over the River and Through the Woods,” the Lord gave clear direction to His chosen people about the importance of giving thanks as they prepared sacrifices.
“If he offer it for a thanksgiving, then he shall offer with the sacrifice of thanksgiving unleavened cakes mingled with oil, and unleavened wafers anointed with oil, and cakes mingled with oil, of fine flour, fried.” (Leviticus 7:12)
The Psalmist reminds us to “Offer unto God thanksgiving,” “come before his presence with thanksgiving,” and to “Sing unto the Lord with thanksgiving.”
En route to Jerusalem as Jesus passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee, 10 lepers lifted their voice from a distance and sought the Savior’s mercy. He instructed them to show themselves unto the priests and “they were cleansed.”
However, only one of them — a Samaritan — returned to offer his thanksgiving to Jesus who said, “Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine?”
As the Lord richly blesses us, we should strive to find ourselves counted with the one who offers heartfelt prayers, thoughts and words of gratitude.
Does happiness bring gratitude, or does gratitude bring happiness?
I am confident we can successfully argue both sides of that coin. I fall into the camp that our gratitude — whether for the small, sometimes unnoticed everyday joys or unforgettable miracles that change lives — brings increased happiness.
As our friends and families gather this week, let us all remember, recognize and offer gratitude to the Source of all our blessings.
Roberts is a former LDS bishop of the Tooele 6th Ward.