We observe Thanksgiving tomorrow. It is a traditional family holiday, a celebratory gathering punctuated by a major feast. There's the famous Thanksgiving Day parade and, of course, lots and lots of football.
The first Thanksgiving was observed in 1621. Just a few miles up the road from Conanicut Island, a ragtag band of Pilgrims celebrated their survival in a hostile new land. The Pilgrims gathered at an outside feast to give thanks for their first harvest, vegetables that would help see them through the long, cold winter ahead.
One would hope that the Pilgrims also gave thanks for their new-found Native American friends who had taught the Pilgrams how to garden.
Through the following years, Thanksgiving became a rather informal holiday celebrated at different times by the American colonies. President George Washington was the first to declare Thanksgiving a national holiday in 1789.
During the Civil War President Abraham Lincoln named the last Thursday in November as Thanksgiving. He was hoping the holiday would help unite the war-torn nation.
There was a bit of controversy in the 1939 when President Franklin Roosevelt made Thanksgiving the third Thursday in November in order to lengthen the Christmas shopping season. In 1941, Congress prevailed and set the holiday as the fourth Thursday, where it has since remained.
Today our Thanksgiving is steeped in tradition, myth and legend. It is a festive time for many. Thanksgiving is the most travelled holiday of the year, a time when far-flung families get together.
We hope your Thanksgiving is filled with joy, laughter and love. May you be surrounded by family and friends. Take a moment to reflect on what you have to be thankful for.
Please remember to help those who are less fortunate.
— Jeff McDonough