Thanksgiving In December?

Washington's Order for a Day of Thanksgiving after SaratogaAfter America’s victory at Saratoga in October of 1777, the Continental Congress suggested we observe a day of thanksgiving. General Washington gave the order setting aside Thursday, December 18, 1777, as a day for Americans to give “Solemn Thanksgiving and Praise” to God.

The Story of Thanksgiving – By Daniel W. Sheridan (Twitter: @DanielWSheridan)

Thanksgiving and the Fourth of July are my two favorite holidays because they are about people – families, neighbors, our fellow-countrymen, and the human race at large. You don’t have to worry about shopping for presents at busy malls on these two awesome holidays.

—Why We Celebrate It In November Today

According to Abraham Lincoln Online, “Sarah Josepha Hale, a 74-year-old magazine editor, wrote a letter to Lincoln on September 28, 1863, urging him to have the ‘day of our annual Thanksgiving made a National and fixed Union Festival.’ She explained, ‘You may have observed that, for some years past, there has been an increasing interest felt in our land to have the Thanksgiving held on the same day, in all the States; it now needs National recognition and authoritive fixation, only, to become permanently, an American custom and institution…Prior to this, each state scheduled its own Thanksgiving holiday at different times…President Lincoln responded to Mrs. Hale’s request immediately…”

The Proclamation made Thanksgiving a yearly national holiday celebrated on the last Thursday of November. It encourages us to be grateful for our many benefits and prays for peace, harmony, and tranquility among the American people. This is a message we dearly need today.

Washington, D.C.
October 3, 1863

By the President of the United States of America.

A Proclamation.

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful abraham_lincolnfields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed 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 and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, 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, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States the Eighty-eighth.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln
William H. Seward,
Secretary of State

—A Short History of Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving celebrations didn’t originate with the American colonists, they have a long history. Among the ancient Hebrews the Feast of Tabernacles was an occasion to be thankful for the harvest. In 1346 England, during the hundred year’s war, under Edward the Third, a national thanksgiving was celebrated after the battle of Cressy. Henry the 5th celebrated one soon after that.

Like many of our customs, Thanksgiving celebrations were carried over from Europe and adapted to new circumstances. The Puritans, on December 11, 1621, grateful for a good harvest, celebrated the first thanksgiving on American shores. In 1630 they held another one to celebrate the safe arrival of Governor Winthrop, then again the following year because they received fresh provisions. Thanksgivings were spontaneous among the Colonists, having no annual set dates, being celebrated on specific occasions as a response to some sort of blessing or success.

It was on October 3, 1789, that President George Washington issued the first “Thanksgiving” proclamation under our current Constitution. Part of it reads as follows:

“Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to Washington Thanksgiving October 3obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor– and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.”

Washington was calling for a day of thanksgiving as America was embarking on a new experiment in a hostile world. Recognizing the historical significance of the event, Washington especially wanted the American people to be thankful for the FORM of Government which is designed to promote our safety and happiness.

Why is the form of Government under which we live so important that Washington would single it out as a special object of thanksgiving? Do you know what makes our form of Government so special?

Why is the form of Government under which we live so important that Washington would single it out as a special object of thanksgiving? Do you know what makes our form of Government so special? Learn about it here in this extremely important, yet short and fun video:

Cable Across The Pacific

On this day, December 14, 1902, work begins one what would become one of the greatest accomplishments in the history of commercial and industrial America. Here’s the story:

Cable Across The Pacific – By Daniel W. Sheridan (Twitter:@DanielWSheridan)

The laying of the Commercial Pacific Cable was one of the greatest accomplishments of the commercial and industrial history of America: crossing the Atlantic with a telegraphic cable.

The Silverton_Pacific CableOn this day, December 14, 1902, the cable ship Silvertown, of the India Rubber Gutta-percha and Telegraph Company, sailed from San Francisco on a mission to lay telegraphic cable across the Pacific.

They laid 17 nautical miles on the 15th, they were up to 259 on the 16th, increasing their output to average about 200 miles of laid cable per day. These brave men worked through the holiday having laid a total of 2,109 nautical miles by the end of Christmas day. After two weeks of intense labor they made were close to Honolulu having laid 2,277 miles of cable. Check out this graph:


From that beautiful island paradise, on January 1, 1903, they sent a successful test message. A few days later the system was up and running and available to the public. Later that summer cables were extended from Honolulu to Midway, from Midway to Guam, and finally from Guam to Manila.

Silverton Cable DeckA contemporary writer wrote praised the work saying it “speaks volumes for the energy and resources of the Commercial Pacific Cable Company. And it is particularly gratifying that this great enterprise has been achieved by private capital and without aid from the Government.”

On July 4 of 1903 President Roosevelt sent the first message from Long Island, New York, to Governor Taft at Manila. It read,

“I open the American Pacific cable with greetings to you and the people of the Philippines.”

Taft Responded congratulated the President saying the cable “will certainly lead to closer union and a better mutual understanding of each other’s aim and sympathies and of their common interest in the prosperity of the Philippines and the education and development of the Filipinos.”

Harnessing The Forces Of Nature Of Meet Human Needs

Mankind Should Be Our Business! Scrooge was right! I think Tesla would agree!
Nikola Tesla: Harnessing The Forces Of Nature Of Meet Human Needs– By Daniel W. Sheridan nikola_tesla(Twitter:@DanielWSheridan)
Nikola Tesla was an immigrant who brought to America inventions which changed the world. People like Thomas Edison resented Tesla’s ideas; Marconi capitalized on his inventions; Westinghouse created his electric company with Tesla’s patents; JP Morgan first supported and then later abandoned Tesla.
On this day, December 13, 1892, Patent #487,796, describing a SYSTEM OF ELECTRICAL TRANSMISSION OF POWER, is issued to Tesla.
Tesla Patent“Be it known that I, NIKOLA TESLA…have invented certain new and useful Improvements in Systems for Electrical Transmission of Power…wherein are employed motors having two or more independent energizing-circuits, through which are passed alternating currents differing in phase that are produced by a magneto-electric machine having independent induced circuits, or that are obtained from any other suitable source or by any other suitable means.”
Tesla was an inventive genius. One time he captured the power of Niagara Falls with his automated current system making it possible to provide electricity to the world. Tesla also patented the technology for wireless communications which made radio and TV broadcasting possible.
Here’s the great irony: Tesla’s inventions helped build America and billion dollar corporations, yet Tesla himself didn’t die rich. Tesla did make money from his inventions; however, he wasn’t business savvy, having little interested in that aspect of things. Tesla’s real passion was coming up with a way to provide the world with an unlimited supply of energy – “to harness the forces of nature to meet human needs.” Tesla’s primary interest was improving the lot of humanity, not getting rich. He said,
“Money does not mean to me what it does to others. All my money has been invested in inventions to make man’s life a little easier.”
Some, unfortunately, who were more interested in the money aspect, seemed to have taken advantage of Tesla’s philanthropic spirit.
One of Tesla’s shining moments was at Chicago’s Great Fair in 1893, a celebration of the year Columbus discovered the Americas (a year late, I might add). The fair was to be the first lighted by electricity, and Tesla, who was with Westinghouse at the time, won the contract to light the event (Edison, having lost the bid, engaged in some unsportsmanlike like conduct after this loss, but that’s a part of the story for another time – the show went on successfully in spite of Edison). In May of 1893, 100,000 people converged on the fairgrounds to witness mankind’s latest inventions. The night began to fall as the people anxiously awaited the lighting spectacular. Then President Cleveland, at the appointed time, pressed a button, and to the thrill of the spectators tube lighting and search lights magically lit up the fair and the night sky. This was the greatest display of lighting the world had ever seen!
Tesla made history in Chicago. His generators provided the electricity for the fair thus proving, to the chagrin of his detractors, that AC could provide power on a large scale.
Get to know Tesla. Look up Tesla’s Egg of Columbus.

Happy Birthday Ava! She wants to teach you a lesson.


Today is July 3rd 2013. My daughter Ava is five today. Happy birthday.

Her birth was a fun story.

July 1st

It was July first 2008. Sarah Denny lived with us at the time. The three of us were sitting in our back yard. It was a sunny day. The baby wasn’t due for six weeks.

Becky started feeling contractions. Sarah and I were were laughing saying that the doctor was wrong. “The baby is coming today” we joked. Becky was in disbelief. She thought there was no way the baby would come that early.

We had a white patio table in our back yard. As we sat there Sarah wrote on the table with a pencil the exact time of each contraction. Six minutes aprt. Five minutes. Uh oh!

Becky calls her doctor. Off to the hospital we go!

I floored it. I made some illegal passes on the way. We made it safely.

We were there for a long time. “False alarm” says the doc. Come and see me tomorrow.

July 2nd

Sarah Denny and I had a radio show in Ludington Michigan. We had a show scheduled on the 3rd at 2:30 in the afternoon with Lars, Orville and the rest of the gang. Sarah took off on the morning of the 2nd. She was going to stay there for the weekend and hang with friends and family. I was going to meet her there.

Becky had a doctor appointment early afternoon. We go. The doc says, “False alarm. The baby ain’t going to be here for six more weeks. I want you to rest until this baby comes.” Thanks doc.

On the car ride home I told Becky that I wasn’t going to Ludington. Sarah and the gang can take care of the show. But she insisted that I go. The plan was that I would leave after dinner, spend the night in Ludington, do the show, then drive home right after it. Ludington is a five to six hour drive depending on how many stops you make.

We arrive home from the doc. The plan is in place. But Becky did something she normally wouldn’t do. She made a last second decision to go with me! She had a rough pregnancy and was getting cabin fever. She wanted out. She figured, I’ll sleep in the car and just enjoy the wonderful accommodations at the Inn at Ludington. Kathy is a great host. Besides, this baby ain’t coming out for six more weeks.

It was almost 5 P.M. She arranges a babysitter for Anna who was 13 at the time. We throw our stuff in the car and hit the road by 6. We arrived at the Inn 1 A.M eastern time. Kathy welcomes us. She shows us to our room. We hit the sack.

July 3rd

“Oh my God, Oh my God” were the words that woke me up at 5 A.M. “My water broke!”

“Oh my God” was right.

We wake up Kathy. She sends us off to Ludington hospital. It was only a few blocks away thankfully. Becky was very nervous. We were far from home and her doctor.

It was a rough delivery. Touch and go for a while. Nine hours of labor.

But it turned out great. Ava was born at 2:00 in the afternoon, Thursday, July 3rd, 2008.


The doctor cleans her off. Puts her in my arms. Thank God. Momma embraces her baby girl. I kiss momma. Then momma says to me, “Go to work.” I knew what that meant.

So I walk out of the hospital. Walk across the street to WKLA. I walk into the station. I take my seat behind the mic. “You’re on the air.” That’s right! Ava was born just in time so we could get the work done!

That’s how the Sheridan family rolls. Git’er done!

Ava’s Lesson

Now it’s five years later.


I was at my parents house with Ava on Sunday June 30th 2013. It was an absolutely perfect day. Upper 70s, sunny, and a perfect breeze. We sat in the back yard the whole afternoon. My parents have a nice yard with perfect landscaping. My Father is as passionate about keeping the outside of the house immaculate as my Mother is about keeping the inside. They have a beautiful Red Maple tree in the middle of the yard.

We sat for hours listening to old time radio. The radio was just a backdrop to the sound of the breeze rustling the leaves of that beautiful Red Maple. That is my favorite sound in the world! We sat there reminiscing about family and friends we have loved and lost. We occasionally looked up into the sky at airplanes that took off from O’Hare. We guessed where each one may be going.

As I sat back in my lawn chair, I marveled at God’s creation. The conversations my Parents and I had were making me think about all the people God created. Each life that was lived. Those who were still living. Each person on the airplane above us. How I long for the day when mortality will be swallowed up by life! God hasten the day!

Then dinner time. It was Five-O-Clock sharp! My mother made the most amazing roast with carrots, onions and peas. The best I ever had. We filled our plates. I made Ava’s. Then we all sat down and took our first bites into the mouth watering meat. Amazing.

Then Ava spoke up.

“Wait a minute. We didn’t thank God for this.”

“Ok, Ava. I’m sorry” Grandma said.

Ava closes her eyes, folds her hands, and says, “Father, thank you for this food, and thank you for Jesus. Amen.”

I taught my kids to keep it short! But to keep it nonetheless.

Be Thankful

In Genesis 43:11 we read this: “And their father Israel said unto them…take of the best fruits in the land in your vessels…”

In the narrative, Jacob is sending his sons to Egypt. He tells them to take the best fruits of the land as a gift for the king. In the Companion Bible there is a marginal note on the phrase, “the best fruits in the land”:

Hebrew “the praise of the land”. Figure of speech Metonymy (of the Cause). “Praise” put for the choice fruits which called forth the praise.

I like that. The choice fruits which called forth praise. Ava reminded us of that as we sat their enjoying that choice roast! That was a delicious meal that we should thank God for.

The world really only has one problem when you think about it. Only one. Paul in Romans said that the root cause of every problem is not glorifying God as God and not thanking Him.

It’s not that hard. A five year old can do it. So can you. Take a lesson from Ava.

Happy birthday my little girl. I’m thankful for you.