In between Halloween and Christmas, there is a holiday when many of us stop to have a big meal and watch a lot of football.

Then it’s time to hurry up and put up the Christmas tree. The meaning of Thanksgiving almost gets forgotten in the busyness of the season.

May I tell you the story of a dainty little lady who saved Thanksgiving many years ago.

Her name was Sarah Hale and she is part of my family tree. She lived in the 1800s and she loved Thanksgiving.

She was every inch a super hero. Besides raising five children, she was a writer and an advocate for what is right. One of her writings that you may be familiar with is a little verse we all have heard “Mary Had a Little Lamb.”

When Sarah saw something she thought needed changing, she picked up her pen and wrote about it until she could persuade people to try and make the world a better place.

Sarah wanted the whole country to celebrate Thanksgiving on the same day, so she started a crusade to bring it about. She wrote thousands of letters asking politicians to make it a national holiday. She encouraged the women of America to pick up their pens and write too.

Finally Sarah started writing to presidents of the United States. Four presidents refused her request but nothing would stop Sarah!

The War Between the States was a scary times so she wrote to Abraham Lincoln and told him that America needed a Thanksgiving Day. She told him that a holiday wouldn’t stop the war but it could bring the country together.

She waited and waited and waited for an answer to her letter and then. In 1863, President Lincoln made Thanksgiving a national holiday — a day for all Americans to give thanks together. It took Sarah Hale 38 years, thousands of letters and countless bottles of ink to make this happen.

This bold, brave, stubborn and smart lady saved Thanksgiving for all of us.

My mother was named in her honor. Her name was also Sarah Hale. She was a courageous lady in her own right, as all the women in our family have always tried to make this a better world and stand up for what we believe.

May I add an easy recipe for your Thanksgiving Dinner. There is one pumpkin dessert that I believe will help you with your menu for that day. It is a simple one called Pumpkin Delight. Here it is: 1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin, mix with 3/4 cup sugar, 2 beaten eggs, 1 large can canned milk, and 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spices. Pour into a lightly greased 9-inch x 13-inch pan. Sprinkle on top a box regular yellow cake dry mix. Then sprinkle 1 cup chopped pecans over the dry cake mix. Drizzle one stick of melted oleo on top and bake one hour at 350 degrees F. Serve with a topping of whipped cream. You and your family will love it and it’s easier than pumpkin pie.

As we come to this Thanksgiving Day may we all stop and be thankful for our freedom and blessings that we have every day. Happy Thanksgiving!

P.S. It was a sad surprise when I read that Reba Collins had gone to her reward. Her life and her stories have been an inspiration to me and to many others. I only met her briefly. I told her of my dreams to be a columnist, and she encouraged me to try.

Thanks, Reba, for giving me the courage to follow my dreams.

(Jeanne Peterson may be reached via e-mail at

Recommended for you