One hundred fifty years ago — nine months after he inaugurated the Emancipation Proclamation, and three months after his Gettysburg address — President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the first official day of Thanksgiving.In his Thanksgiving proclamation of Oct. 3, 1863, Lincoln stated that “the whole American People … should observe the last Thursday of November as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father, who dwells in the Heavens … and commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged.” Lincoln’s decree came exactly 74 years after George Washington proclaimed Nov. 26, 1789 a day of “public thanksgiving and prayer” devoted to “the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be.” In 1941, Congress designated the fourth Thursday of November as the official Thanksgiving Day, an observance that continues, though it bears little resemblance to what is regarded as America’s first Thanksgiving in 1621 at Plymouth. The Wampanoag Indians — initially wary of newly arrived pilgrims who had minimal survival skills or food — had taught the newcomers to hunt, farm the land and build shelters; after that first year of sickness and scarcity, it was possible to gather together and enjoy a harvest of thanks.The liturgy for this annual day of gratitude starts with the exhortation in the Collect: “Father all-powerful, your gifts of love are countless and your goodness infinite; as we come before you on Thanksgiving Day.” The first reading echoes the theme in the selection from the Book of Sirach: “And now, bless the God of all, who has done wondrous things on earth.” The Gospel of the ten lepers emphasizes the one who thanked Jesus. And the Offertory prayer asks God that “we might learn to share your blessings in gratitude.”On that note, Benedictine Brother (and writer) David Steindl-Rast asserts, “It is not enough to give thanks. We must also do thanks … we must share our blessings with others.”