In the United States, the Christmas season is ushered in by a day to express gratitude to God. It is a national holiday-—a day of Thanksgiving. It is a great time to pause and reflect on our blessings before a flurry of shopping and Christmas celebrations inundate us. Did you know this holiday would not have happened without the consistent efforts of a heroine?
In today’s world, we often watch movies about superheroes. We follow stories of bold, brave, and intelligent champions. However, there are many kinds of heroes and heroines, and Thanksgiving has a pretty special one.
Sarah Josepha Buell Hale was born on October 24, 1788 in Newport, New Hampshire. As a young woman, she became a school teacher. She found that she had a talent for writing, and was the author of a poem about one of her students-–Mary Had a Little Lamb. (Yes. There really was a girl named Mary who brought a lamb to school!)
Sarah married a young lawyer named David Hale in 1813. They were very happy until David died of pneumonia when Sarah was pregnant with their fifth child. Sarah worked during the day to support her family, but at night while the children slept, she returned to her love of writing. She wrote and published her first novel and this led to a job as editor at a new magazine for women called Boston’s Ladies’ Magazine and later working for Godey’s Lady’s Book.
Sarah was a superhero because she knew the power of the pen. Every magazine issue had an editorial written by Sarah. She supported causes which she felt were important and encouraged her readers to write letters seeking change as well.
In 1789, President George Washington issued a proclamation designating November 26 of that year as a National Day of Thanksgiving to recognize the role of providence in the creation of the new United States. Sarah loved Thanksgiving, but it was celebrated mainly in New England where she lived and other northern states. The rest of the country was ignoring this day to give thanks more and more. In her editorials, as well as writing thousands of letters to politicians, she advocated for every state, and the whole country, to celebrate a day of thanks together. One by one, individual states made a Thanksgiving holiday, although not on the same day.
Sarah believed that the nation needed to come together and give thanks on the same holiday, just like a family. So, she used her magazine platform and began petitioning the President of the United States for a national holiday.
President Zachary Taylor refused. President Millard Fillmore rejected it. Sarah persisted over the years. She petitioned President Franklin Pierce and he would not consider it. She wrote a personal letter to President James Buchanan, asking that the whole country gather together on the fourth Thursday in November. President Buchanan said that he had more important things to deal with it as the country wrestled with the issue of slavery.
Discouraged as things in the country descended into a civil war, the North against the South, the 74-year-old magazine editor wrote a letter to President Lincoln on September 28, 1863, urging him to have the “day of our annual Thanksgiving made a national and fixed Union Festival.” She explained that it was necessary to have “national recognition… to become permanently an American custom and institution.” President Lincoln agreed. On October 3, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation declaring the last Thursday of November as a day of Thanksgiving for the whole country.
Over a period of 36 years, Sarah Hale, a true superhero, used her pen and persevered, helping to bring the holiday we know of as Thanksgiving to her country. Her message to us today would be the same as President Washington and President Lincoln, imploring fellow Americans to find time in their family gatherings to count their blessings, unite as a people, and be thankful for living in the United States of America.
We are so very thankful for all the awesome comments people have been sending us. We continue to offer praise to our Lord for the impact our little wooden crosses have on the lives of the recipients. Read these amazing comments here!
Even as the busyness of the upcoming holiday season preparations start, we find ourselves thinking more and more about family and how valuable they are to us. And, we have to say that, even though we haven’t met many of our Cross The World family personally, we consider you an important blessing to us. Without you, we wouldn’t have been able to reach out to over 400,000 people … giving them something tangible to hang on to … wrapping them in God’s goodness … helping them to feel His presence and guidance … letting them enjoy the freedom of His love! Every one of you is dear to us.
Sadly, when we lose a family member, it causes our hearts to fracture. This fall, we lost a precious member of our CTW family, our beloved Uncle Don. He loved to hand out the cross … to anyone and everyone. It became his mission; he made it his personal ministry. We estimate that this one guy, with the most gentle approach ever, handed out over 5000 crosses and blessed a LOT of lives. Glory to God!!! Read his story here and here.
We miss our Uncle Don terribly but know that his Lord and Savior personally greeted him at the Pearly Gates, ecstatic to see His child, telling him what a truly faithful servant he had been. Don worked his wonders here on earth and is now serving his Savior up in Heaven, his lovely wife, many friends and family by his side. Thank you, Uncle Don, for letting us be a part of your life and blessing us with your involvement in Cross The World. We are better servants because of you and this Thanksgiving, we are grateful for you.