Thanksgiving is here and we really do have much to be thankful
for living in the greatest country in the world, with an amazing
level of comfort and freedom compared with many other places.
Thanksgiving is here and we really do have much to be thankful for living in the greatest country in the world, with an amazing level of comfort and freedom compared with many other places.
When we think of Thanksgiving, images of colonists, Native Americans, peace and goodwill and Plymouth Rock usually come to mind. But there is more to the story, and more to the tradition.
Our American Thanksgiving essentially continues the age-old celebration of the harvest feast, which stretches back as far as 3,000 years. The Jews celebrated the Sukkoth. The Chinese celebrated the Chung Ch’ui. The Greeks and Romans had harvest feasts of their own.
The common thread? They were all celebrations of good fortune, gratitude and relief.
Early colonial life was marked by hardship. In 1621, the Massachusetts colonists had endured persistent hunger, and the local Native American community had been decimated by introduced diseases.
But the fall of 1621 brought peace, and farming techniques learned from the Native Americans had improved the lives of the colonists. A day of Thanksgiving was proclaimed by Governor William Bradford to be shared by colonists and Native Americans. So Thanksgiving was a day of reflection and appreciation.
Thanksgiving didn’t become an “official” holiday in America until about 250 years later. Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a Thanksgiving Day holiday in 1863, when the country was going through one of its roughest times.
From Wikipedia: “It is thought that the first Thanksgiving was celebrated to give thanks to God for helping the Pilgrims of Plymouth Colony survive their first brutal winter in New England. The first Thanksgiving feast lasted three days providing enough food for 53 pilgrims and 90 Native Americans.
The feast consisted of fowl, venison, fish, lobster, clams, berries, fruit, pumpkin, and squash. William Bradford’s note that, ‘besides waterfowl, there was great store of wild turkeys, of which they took many,’ probably gave rise to the American tradition of eating turkey at Thanksgiving.”
Right now, while as a nation we have experienced unusually tough economic times, there is still much to be grateful about and our quality of life remains remarkably high.
This Thanksgiving as we enter the holiday season let’s go back to the roots of tradition and practice gratitude. Let us celebrate our good fortunes and be grateful for the true and simple blessings in life: our freedoms, a roof over our heads, warm clothing, ample food, good health, good hearts and most importantly our families and friends.
From my family to yours, Happy Thanksgiving!