So tomorrow, Thanksgiving Day, I will be hosting a family gathering for 31 people — via ZOOM. I’m hoping that most of my invited company will be able to stop by even just for a quick HELLO. I know that many are on different time schedules and have different responsibilities, some work from home and some work in the field, we are all over the country. I would be in complete bliss to see my daughter and son-in-law, son and daughter-in-law, Mark’s and my siblings and their better halves, our nieces and nephews and even grand-nieces and grand-nephews.
Years ago when our children were just young’uns and we weren’t spread out all over, we would meet at my sister’s home for a Thanksgiving meal; before we would begin eating we would go around the table saying what we were most thankful for. This year has been… strange and very lonely, and the pandemic is still raging. I am thankful that WE have made it to this time, that my family is safe, and I hope that all who are reading this also feel thankful for what they have.
It’s been a hard year for so many. America has lost more than one-quarter-million lives, families have been financially devastated, hard-working business owners have seen their life-work dissolve, and we are still facing taming this horrible disease. My sincere condolences to all those who have suffered losses, please don’t think I have forgotten you when I feel thankful for all I have.
School children were raised on the stories of Pilgrims landing here seeking religious freedoms in the 17th century and one day sharing a friendly feast with the Native Americans they met and lived amongst — a fairy tale fabrication to explain the Thanksgiving tradition. The first National Thanksgiving Day didn’t happen until almost two centuries later and President Abraham’s proclamation didn’t even mention Pilgrims and “Indians” (as Native Americans were referred to since the original explorers thought they had landed in India).
Lincoln’s proclamation, made in the middle of the American Civil War, referred instead to “fruitful fields and healthful skies… which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come”, he continued “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 finally asked for 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, tranquility, and union.”
The fanciful story of grade-school primers and Charlie Brown movies gave a vastly different meaning to Thanksgiving than President Lincoln’s apparent interpretation. I believe Lincoln was reminding us to be thankful for the things we DO have, and not just the ideals we wish for. It would also be befitting to say thank you to the indigenous people who lived here before our European ancestors arrived, we’ve built our homes upon their lands, often just taking and not asking.
We should say thank you to every man and woman who has served our country in every one of our Armed Forces. And especially as this past year has shown us, we need to be thankful for all of our healthcare workers, first responders, and essential workers who have kept us safe, treated us, cared for us, and enabled many of us to exist through this trying time.
It is a good time to remember all the little things we should be thankful for, the challenges we’ve survived, and the strength we have to keep moving forward. And especially, thank you for allowing me into your lives through my words.