Thursday Thoughts on Leadership: A Thanksgiving Tale

By Gino Blefari

As my video message above explains, this week my travels find me in Orange County, recording videos like the one you just watched and meeting with our team. It’s fortuitous Thanksgiving always falls on a Thursday, because it means my blog posts can always land exactly on the day of giving thanks.

And we really should be grateful for everything in our lives. Be sure to take time tonight to step back, reflect and thank those people who make your lives so special.

Speaking of special, I’d like to share a story with you. It’s the tale of a visionary leader named Sarah Josepha Hale.

Hale was a fiction writer and poet, born Oct. 24, 1788 in Newport, NH. While she’s known for writing a famous, short rhyme you might know called “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” she’s also credited in history books as the figure responsible for turning Thanksgiving into a national holiday.

In the mid-1800s, Hale advocated relentlessly for Thanksgiving to become a national holiday, writing letters to governors, ministers living abroad, Navy commanders and even five American Presidents, including President Abraham Lincoln. While Thanksgiving was widely celebrated, it was only at the discretion of every state—sometimes falling on a day in October, sometimes commemorated in January—and Hale saw it as a missed opportunity to strengthen the country and forge a new, national tradition.

She campaigned tirelessly for 17 years until finally, Lincoln wrote a proclamation called “Thanksgiving Day 1863.”

“The year that is drawing toward its close has been filled with blessings of fruitful fields and healthy skies,” Lincoln wrote. “It seems to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and one voice, by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving.”

So, what’s the message? Well, in the case of Hale, never giving up is one lesson to take away from her tale. Another is to remember that just like Hale, we should find deep appreciation in the true importance of this holiday. Thanksgiving is so much more than a hearty meal. It’s a chance to bind our families, our neighbors and our friends together through a hearty sense of gratitude. We celebrate each other and really, we celebrate the happiness and bounty of our lives. And for that and more, we should always give thanks.

One response to Thursday Thoughts on Leadership: A Thanksgiving Tale

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