Dear Ms. Q,
Although The Thanksgiving celebration is secular in design it was created by a spiritual need.
Before the Pilgrims had their Thanksgiving celebration, there were different harvest festivals celebrated in Europe as a way of giving Thanks and they usually occurred before the first snow fall, when it was easier to get around.
It is believed that the first thanksgiving feast was done by Spanish explorers in Florida in the late 1500's but it wasn't until the Thanksgiving celebration by the Pilgrims with the local native Americans did it become more mythologized, granted they did have a harvest celebration because the Native Americans taught the pilgrims what they could do to prevent starvation. and it is said that they consecrated it to God to preserve them from want.
The exact date is unknown but it most likely occurred in the Fall after most of the harvest was done.
Later on George Washington issued a proclamation to celebrate Thanksgiving under God as the first Thursday in November very soon after All Hallows, again before the first Snow Fall, and it continued sporadically in Early November until 1863.
President Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation that the 4th Thursday in November but not the last Thursday in November be recognized as a Day of Thanks and that all be consecrated to Christ this was do to the terrible battle of Gettysburg, and the thousands of Deaths. Lincoln was not an overly religious man, but he did have spiritual beliefs, he was going through difficult times, his son had died, he had doubts about the war, but it wasn't until he walked among the graves at Gettysburg that he asked the people there to pray not only for the Dead but to pray to consecrate Lincoln to Christ.
What he saw at Gettysburg moved him profoundly, and he then wrote the Proclamation. People there after traditionally celebrated a Day of Thanks both secular and spiritual on the 4th Thursday.
But it was not made into a National Holiday until 1941 when President Roosevelt signed a bill Making the 4th Thursday in November (but not the last Thursday in November) as Thanksgiving. Many people liked the idea at having a National Day of Thanks and retailers liked it too as it began to define retail wise the start of putting together the Christmas shopping season. By doing this it gave exactly 1 month for people to prepare for Christmas.
That is why the Macy's parade starts with a Turkey Float and ends with Santa Claus arriving at Macy's.
But for a witch to set aside a Day of Thanks is a good thing, to have it separated from any other religious connotation except to be glad and grateful for what blessings one has received, for having survived the trials and tribulations of the year and hopefully be renewed with a new spirit to face the year to come, this is a good thing.
It is always best to celebrate with a pot luck dinner, with each person bringing a dish, and it is best for each person to let the hostess know what dish they are thinking of bringing or what would the hostess assign them---that way you avoid 100 desserts or 100 salads.
It's like the story of "Stone Soup" in which a town was starving, but with each person putting what they had into the big soup pot it made a delicious soup that everyone could eat and no one starved.
Again the candles should be yellow, orange, warm brown, and gold as well as the decorations, dried corn, gourds, a basket woven cornucopia (you can used fake fruit such as grapes, apples, pears or the real thing).
For many going to church to give thanks is a good way of starting the day, then returning to make sure the Turkey is baking just right, it sets the mind frame, then enjoy not only the food but the good company. Having Candles lit safely around the place also makes for a sense of warmth. I also recommend a potpourri simmering smelling of cinnamon and vanilla.
But most importantly once all the food is set out, to say a prayer of Thanks.
The most common is:
Bless us Oh Lord
For these thy Gifts
Which we have received
from your Bounty,
Through Christ your Son.
Bless us Oh Lord
For protecting us and our loved ones
from harm, and want
Through Christ your Son
Protect Oh Lord,
our Loved Ones who cannot
be with us on this Day of Thanks.
And are watched over by Christ Your Son.
And remember Oh Lord
Those who have gone before us
into your kingdom and your love,
that we may remember them and give Thanks
for the good they have done and
the sacrifice that they have done for Family and Friends.
We ask this and pray for this through your Son Jesus Christ. Amen.