At Thanksgiving we take the opportunity to express our thanks for all that we hold dear to our lives and for those things we are grateful for. Our sentiments have been heartfelt and sincere. But in some years those sentiments take on an extra special meaning. A good example would be the year of the 9/11 terrorists attacks. This year the recent fires in our county have once again served as a reminder of all that we should and need to be thankful for.
Also at Thanksgiving we are annually reminded of the misgivings and the symbolism of the landing of Pilgrims at Plymouth. Some Chicano and Native American groups use this time to debunk the image of Pilgrims and the Indians coming together in celebration of togetherness and use this opportunity to remind us of the destruction to the Native American people.
But let us not forget that the idea of the Pilgrims and the Indians coming together is nothing more than a fabrication, a symbol, to reflect the meaning of Thanksgiving. Sarah Joseph Hale, the editor of “Godey’s Lady’s Book” is credited for the idea of the national Thanksgiving Day. Every year for thirty years she promoted the idea of Thanksgiving Day, writing about it and contacting every President year after year with the idea. It was President Abraham Lincoln who finally set the last Thursday of November as a national Day of Thanksgiving. For 75 years thereafter every President followed suit and it wasn’t until 1941 that Congress finally made it an official national holiday.
The idea of the Indians and Pilgrims sharing a bountiful harvest developed over the years as to the meaning of Thanksgiving, a sharing in the joy of hard work, faith, good food, a sharing in brotherhood, and a day of thanks.
We need to recognize the impact of the landing of the Pilgrims in the New World which we can not be understated and the impact to the Native American Indian.
With that said we also need to come together as a community and as a nation and recognize and give thanks for all that is good about us and look upon the faces of our families and feel good about the love that surrounds us. And for a day it feels good to share in the bounty and enjoy the feast that Thanksgiving Day presents to us all.
And with the recent fires, the war in Iraq, the foreclosure scare, and economic melt down, this year it is important to give thanks, not for the material things in our life, but for family, good health, faith, and for the strength of will and character to see us through these hard times that will see us through to better times.
President Lincoln saw the celebration of Thanksgiving as a way to heal a nation that had been at war with itself, as a time to bring the people together and to be thankful for what they had. Instead of the image of the Pilgrims and Indians coming together perhaps we should think of President Lincoln’s intent of bringing the nation together during these troubling times that we all face together. Together we will need to support our family and friends in the hard times and together we will lead the way to better times.