I am not sure who is to blame for the Thanksgiving holiday. Historians say it was George Washington or Uncle Abe Lincoln, or maybe the Pilgrims who were thankful they were able to beg a boatload of dried cod from fishermen on Damariscove Island. The blame doesn’t matter at all.
Thanksgiving is not the day we overeat and watch football as we wait for notice of the great Black Friday deals. Sorry Big Box storekeepers, little guy merchants, and the all-powerful gorilla in the room, Amazon. Thanksgiving was not invented as the start of the Christmas buying/selling season. If you didn’t notice, some stores and TV Christmas ads began showing up sometime around Halloween, about the same time you started wondering where you stashed the snow shovel and hoped the old snowblower would hang together for another year.
No, Thanksgiving is not about a long weekend, a paid mini-vacation from work or school. Around our house, I always worked the holidays to earn extra holiday wages. It provided a special bonus that helped pay the bills and afford a new pair of sneakers for one of the other kids whose feet seemed to grow exponentially in a few months.
As for today’s schoolkids, it seems they spend too much time hiding out at home as one or all of their classmates tested positive for COVID-19. One of my walking buddies said one of his grandsons was asked which he liked best, home school or school at school. When he first was kept home for instruction by his mom, he said he loved home school. After a few months under her watchful eye, he changed his tune.
No, Thanksgiving is not a time for frivolities and frolics, shopping deals and bargains, and, of course, touchdowns and old movies. For me, it is time to reflect, to wonder, to let the imagination play the mental game of what if. We all play that game as we lie in bed staring at the ceiling after the rest of the family is sound asleep.
We wonder what if something happened to (insert the name of a loved one). What would we do? What would happen to our lives?
For me, it always goes back to how lucky I was to have been blessed by the Almighty, or favored by Mother Nature, to have a caring and loving family. For that, I give my most profound thanks.
Thanksgiving is also a time to be thankful we were born into a family that lived in the good old USA. Think about it for a moment. Unless you came from a family linked to indigenous peoples, our ancestors were immigrants. Many ancestors sailed across the oceans seeking something they could not find at home. For some, it was the chance to practice, or not practice, the religion of their choice. Politics, class and status provided other reasons to leave home.
Others were seeking economic success. For some, it was a chance to achieve fame and fortune. For others, it meant the ability to eat three meals a day and feed a family without being under the thumb of a powerful master.
Thanksgiving is another chance to reflect on those who sacrificed their lives, or a portion of their lives, to protect the freedoms we enjoy. We all have relatives and friends who donned a uniform and sailed across choppy seas to an unknown fate. There was no personal reason for them to go. They just went because Uncle Sam asked them for help, and they said yes.
For me, that means they were all American heroes. I give thanks for them all.
Back home, others put on white coats and cute little hats that signified a desire to help others who were sick or injured. Over the years, they cared for those injured in horrible accidents and other incidents. Sometimes they used rare surgical skills to cure ailments and save lives and limbs. Other times, there was little they could do, but they stood by, sometimes holding a hand as they wondered if they had done enough to save a life. We all should give thanks for them all.
Lastly, I am thankful that we live in a nation where you can speak your mind and not have the cops kick down your door if you said something that offended some big shot. Once a guy came up to me and asked if I believed in the Constitution. I smiled and said yes. If it were not for the First Amendment, I would have had to find real work. For that, I give thanks.
Happy Thanksgiving to all.