As you may know, tomorrow is Thanksgiving in the US! There is a lot of controversy this time of year, because of the horrible things done to the Native American people by the British settlers!
I am married to a woman who is part Cherokee Indian...so we are particularly sensitive about this issue!
That said...I would like to reflect on our modern Thanksgiving and share with you a few thoughts about this secular holiday!
Please pardon me while I share a bit about the history of Thanksgiving...
Though it was not called Thanksgiving at the time, what we recognize as the first Thanksgiving feast was celebrated in 1621 by the pilgrims of the Plymouth colony along with about 90 Wampanoag Indians. The Pilgrims had suffered through a devastating winter in which nearly half their number died. Without the help of the Indians, all would have perished.
After the first harvest, Governor William Bradford proclaimed a "...day of thanksgiving and prayer to God." The food, which was eaten outdoors, included corn, geese, turkeys, ducks, eel, clams, leeks, plums, cod, bass, barley, venison and corn bread. The feast lasted 3 days. Though the exact date is unknown, the feast clearly took place in late autumn.
In 1623, a period of drought was answered by colonists with a proclamation of prayer and fasting. This prayer and fasting was changed to another thanksgiving celebration when rains came during the prayers. Later that year, Governor Bradford proclaimed November 29 as a time for pilgrims to gather and "listen to ye pastor and render thanksgiving to ye Almighty God for all His blessings."
Throughout American history, there were many thanksgiving proclamations and celebrations. In 1789 George Washington proclaimed a National Thanksgiving Day on the last Thursday in November, in honor of the new United States Constitution. Thomas Jefferson, the third president, later discontinued it, calling it "a kingly practice."
In 1863, Sarah Josepha Hale, the author of the poem "Mary Had a Little Lamb," convinced Abraham Lincoln to proclaim Thanksgiving a national holiday. For the date she chose the last Thursday in November because of Washington's proclamation. In 1941, it was officially changed to the fourth Thursday in November.
Obviously, this was more than 350 years ago, and people had different attitudes towards social rights & wrongs! So, at the time, the British thought they were doing nothing wrong...and according to society's attitude at the time, they weren't!
We think now, that they were wrong and the way the native people were treated was atrocious!!! (at least most people I talk to do)...
So...what does any of this rambling have to do with my thoughts on Thanksgiving???
I think Thanksgiving is a time for being thankful for all of the "gifts" you have in your life! Your family, friends, pets, home, car, freedom, whatever you have been blessed with!
There is nothing practical that can be done about the horrors visited upon the Native Americans...America is never going to say, "We are so sorry, here's your country back!"...it's not realistic! Would it be the right thing to do? Some say, "Yes!"...I don't really know what the solution is or should be...
What we can do, however, is rethink Thanksgiving and mold it into a holiday where everyone, no matter what their heritage, stops for a moment and gives thanks to who/whatever they believe in, for the blessings in their lives!
This Thanksgiving I am particularly thankful for my wife! We've had a rough few years with her health...she is still undergoing a lot of tests and we are far from an answer...but she is here and for that I am extremely grateful!
With all of that said, I pose this question to you...please feel free to leave your answer int eh comments of this post...
What are you most grateful for this Thanksgiving?