What we can Learn from the Woman who Saved Thanksgiving

File_000 (1).jpegWritten by Laura Smythers

Every fourth Thursday in November, we sit at a long, beautifully decorated table, filled with the most grand turkey, rolls of delicious bread, stuffing, the reddest cranberries, creamy mashed potatoes and gravy, sweet corn on the cob and we top it off with scrumptious pumpkin pie.

Across that table are the people we are most thankful for- family and friends. Can you imagine if that day never existed? If Thanksgiving was lost?! Well, we almost did lose Thanksgiving Day… But, Sarah Hale.

When I taught 5th grade, I loved to read seasonal books to my kids. I had books for every season and holiday, ranging from Valentine’s Day to St. Patrick’s Day and of course, a plethora of books for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

I stumbled across this book, titled “Thank You, Sarah” and it became a classic to read aloud to my students before our Thanksgiving Feast every year.

Sarah Hale was a bold, brave, stubborn, and smart woman that loved celebrating Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving, in her time, was not a national holiday celebrated across our nation.

The Thanksgiving we celebrate today is based on the harvest feast held by the Native Americans and the pilgrims back in 1621, but they did not invent Thanksgiving and it was definitely not a “holiday” that all Americans, on a specific day each year, celebrated.

Sarah had to fight for Thanksgiving and her fight was not a physical fight, she fought with a very powerful tool- a pen.

She wrote letters to every politician asking them to make Thanksgiving a national holiday. She wrote thousands of letters. She gathered other women around her and encouraged them to write letters. As more letters were written, certain states made Thanksgiving a holiday for their individual states, but Sarah was not satisfied.

She wanted it to be national holiday across the United States. She wrote to the president. She wrote to Fillmore, Pierce, and Buchanan, yet all of them said no. Then, she wrote to President Abraham Lincoln.

America needed a national holiday to give thanks now more than ever, in the midst of a war. So she waited and waited, and then Lincoln said YES!

In 1863, President Lincoln made Thanksgiving a national holiday- a day for ALL Americans to give thanks, together. It took Sarah Hale thirty-eight year to accomplish this. Thirty-eight! That’s 13, 870 days, people, but she didn’t give up and accomplished her dream.

When I think about the positive impact that one woman can make, her example comes to mind. We can use our “pen” to mark the lives of others in a powerful and positive way or our ink can spill and we can cause a stain in the lives of those around us that can never be erased.

We can choose to work towards a dream or goal for a few days or be stubborn and not take no for an answer when we really want to accomplish something. As women, we are designed to be communicators. We can communicate life or we can communicate death.

We can empower others to do good and be good, or we can cause them to go astray. Sarah, as a woman, fought as a woman. She didn’t demand equal rights and she didn’t pick a fight.

Sarah recognized the influence of the person she was writing to and didn’t neglect her own. In doing so God used her gifts and talents and gave her the wisdom to share them with an entire generation. We too, can use our “pen” to influence our generation.

We can use the talents, gifts and platforms that God has given us, as women, to change a generation for the good, to save the day for the people we do life with on a daily basis.

Do not let your day be lost. Do not allow your opportunity be lost. Do not give up easily. Fight. Put your pen to paper. Save the day.

How can you save the day by using the “pen” that God has given you? 

P.S. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving with family & friends!


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