When the fourth Thursday of November arrives in the United States, it is called the holiday of Thanksgiving. This is a day of simply giving thanks along with much feasting among family and friends. The menu itself usually includes roast turkey with dressing, yams, cranberries in many forms, pumpkin pie and many more tasty morsels associated with this grand holiday. It now includes an array of several football games on TV and much catching up on family gossip.
It all started in 1621 in Plymouth, Mass., as the pilgrims gave thanks for their great harvest and held a feast among their new Indian friends. The Pilgrims, or Separatists as this religious group was called, arrived about a year earlier at Plymouth with approximately a hundred people on a somewhat crowded little ship called the Mayflower. The voyage lasted about two months. Upon arrival, the pilgrims and others on this voyage became authors as they created a document of equality for all and called it the Mayflower Compact, which in reality was a stepping stone to our own Constitution. After the signing of this document, they came together as one and all were pilgrims. Due to a very harsh winter and disease, they lost half of their people to death their first year. Their story has been chronicled many times, as they earlier fled their homes in England and settled in Holland in fear of persecution for their beliefs. Finally, seeking an ever better life, they opted for the voyage to America in 1620.
With names such as William Bradford, Myles Standish, John Alden, William Brewster and Priscilla Mullins, who became quite famous in their own right, the Pilgrims were the very strength that held this colony together.
There were many reasons to give thanks in 1621, for with the help of the Indians, in particular Squanto, they learned to plant crops, hunt, build better homes and have a great harvest. Their menu on that first Thanksgiving included venison, wild fowl, lobster, fish and corn served many ways. There were about 100 Indians, who helped with and shared this first Thanksgiving. Their menu was not shabby, even by our standards today.
The pilgrims held their religion sacred after their many hardships, and finally, with somewhat of a success in harvest, they thanked the Almighty for not only the harvest but for being alive and sustaining a family and religious life.
Meanwhile, back at our Thanksgiving, the Detroit Lions just scored a touchdown and Uncle Wally spilled his beer in excitement, and the grandchildren are making too much noise for Grandma. The pumpkin pie is just being served with a large clump of whipped cream shimmering on top. There is also much laughter as cousin Al tells his latest of many stories.
What a great scene! We, too, hold this holiday sacred as our families also give thanks for many things such as our health, our families, and just having the freedom to meet together and enjoy this great feast. We all have had some hardships in our lives, maybe nothing like the pilgrims, but, of course, that was another era. There is nothing like being together with family and friends and simply enjoying life on this great holiday.
Thanksgiving in our nation really didn't get started until President Lincoln in 1863 proclaimed a day of Thanksgiving on the last Thursday in November. That date was changed several times down through the years. President Franklin Roosevelt set the holiday to the next-to-last Thursday to create a longer Christmas shopping season. There was a public uproar, so Thanksgiving was moved, with Congress' approval, to the fourth Thursday in November where it remains today,
Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays. Here's hoping you have the happiest of all Thanksgivings.