Monday, November 23, 2015

In Support of Thanksgiving...

It's the new thing- bash everything, everyone. Every holiday. Every person's opinion. Even the facts. Sometimes I feel that people are so miserable and scared (maybe selfish) that they won't be happy unless they make others unhappy. Take the whipping of Thanksgiving.

Okay, we know the Thanksgiving story we've been told is the Hollywood/Disney version: forget or hide the bad stuff, show only the shiny parts. We all know the Native Americans were treated atrociously, that they suffered at the hands of the European settlers (so remember that, Europeans, when you bash us- you had a hand in the atrocities). But it's not all death and horror like some would have you believe.

Here's the true history of Thanksgiving ( ) So put aside your preconceived, misguided or political notions for the truth. I'm going boil it down to generalities:

In his journal, Edward Winslow wrote in the fall of 1621 that: "...many Indians coming amongst us...their King Massasoit with 90 men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted." Besides the feasting, there were games of skill between the men. The Native Americans returned the favor, bringing five deer for the feast.

The custom of celebrating the harvest, which was popular across cultures and nations in Europe for centuries, was neglected for many years--the horrific intervening wars with the Indians taking its toll on that population.

In 1777, the Continental Congress declared a National Day of Thanksgiving to celebrate the colonial victories at Saratoga, and although it did not become a law, various states and towns celebrated a harvest festival. In 1789, President George Washington also called for a national day of Thanksgiving, but it was not a federal holiday.

In the mid 19th century, Sara Josepha Hale, a magazine editor (and author of Mary Had a Little Lamb) started a 30 year letter writing campaign to have a national day of Thanksgiving recognized when the United States balanced on the edge of civil war. In her magazine, she published recipes for pumpkin pie, turkey, and stuffing.

In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln decreed, after the Battle of Gettysburg, that the fourth Thursday in November would henceforth be a national and federal holiday to give thanks.

The parade and football traditions arrived in 1924.

It's not all massacres and death (although tragically, that happened in the years following the first feast and continued for so long).

Maybe instead of trashing the holiday completely, how about we focus on the friendship, generosity, goodwill, cooperation, and thankfulness that was present in 1621. Let's be grateful for bounty- and share it more generously than we have with those who want. Let's be grateful for our freedoms and strive to give others the same, and thank those who help us keep it. Let's be grateful for the time we're given and spend it more wisely, more compassionately, more in forgiving. Let's be grateful for family, friends and loved ones. Let's all sit down at the table of humanity and earn the title of  'human.'

Being thankful will make us all happy.

Wishing you a bountiful, happy, sharing, Thanksgiving.


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