What has become of this national day of thanksgiving? Has the tradition become only a dim recollection of what we remember as children?
“In 1621, the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn harvest feast that is acknowledged today as one of the first Thanksgiving celebrations in the colonies,” according to the History website. “For more than two centuries, days of thanksgiving were celebrated by individual colonies and states. It wasn’t until 1863, in the midst of the Civil War, that President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day to be held each November.”
Now that we have established the historical perspective of Thanksgiving Day, as citizens of this great nation are we still in line with those first settlers? Keep in mind that the Mayflower was only 90-feet long, sported a 24-foot beam, was 13-feet deep and weighed in at 180 tons. It’s worth noting that these pilgrims to America were not sailors, they were English Puritans seeking religious freedom. They set sail in the Atlantic during the hurricane season and made their way to a land that was completely wild to all except those Wampanoag Indians who were on hand to greet these first immigrants.
One need not ask if these folks were thankful. They were more than grateful to have made the voyage to an unknown destiny on a ship that one would hardly deem an ocean-going vessel by today’s standards and they wound up on a rock that was dubbed Plymouth Rock.
Lincoln, the president who made the day we celebrate a national holiday, was thankful for a much different reason. He was in the middle of a civil war that was pitting state against state, brother against brother, and tore at the fiber of this nation that was younger than a century old at the time. Lincoln was thankful for an America that would free African slaves, yet keep this nation united.
Today, thoughts of Plymouth Rock and America’s Civil War may be glossed over as today’s Americans line up seven days before Black Friday in hopes of grabbing the special deal on a 3D-LED 72-inch color TV at only $9,999! All that to watch the Detroit Lions take on the Houston Texans in a game neither the Pilgrims, the Wampanoag Indians nor President Lincoln could even imagine.
Perhaps it is appropriate to ask the question — has this nation lost its traditional understanding of this national day of giving thanks for the freedoms enjoyed by so few in this world? I think so.
This year, leave the football game and join members of your own family and enjoy the richness of each family member. Get out and enjoy the beauty of this lakes area. We are experiencing one of the most gorgeous Novembers in recent memory. Take a hike in the woods, or enjoy a quiet canoe trip down the Mississippi River, or just be with family and friends.
We are a great nation. And, this is a great area with great people. Enjoy this Thanksgiving Day.