Reasons to give thanks in 2009
Tomorrow, we’ll gather around the dinner table in the company of dear family and friends to partake in an annual feast. These homespun traditions are varied, but at some point, we may pause and remember those who observed the first Thanksgiving.
Historians believe that it was after the harvest of 1621 when a ragtag group of settlers gathered – just a few miles from our island of Conanicut – to celebrate their first harvest in a new land. These early colonists and the Wampanoag Indians joined together in a feast. In fact, it was the Wampanoags who were largely responsible for teaching the Pilgrims how to farm, and thus survive, in the new world.
The Pilgrims had survived a hard voyage across the Atlantic and their first winter. They were now preparing for their second season of cold. They gave thanks for the bounty that nature, coupled with their agrarian toil, had yielded. The land that they had worked had hopefully provided what they would need to eat during the long winter ahead. Little did they realize that the New England climate could be so unforgiving and brutal in the months to come.
Of course, there is much myth and legend surrounding those Pilgrims. But that moment of thanks has had an everlasting impact on our culture and society. Sixty-eight years ago, our Congress officially set aside Thanksgiving as a national holiday and thus we now break from work on the fourth Thursday in November to continue this tradition of feasting to give thanks.
Today, Thanksgiving serves as the opening kick-off to the holiday season, an electronicfueled frenzy of consumerism and commercialism that dominates our world. Those early settlers could never have imagined the Thanksgiving that we celebrate. But then we would probably not recognize Thanksgiving – if there is one – some 200 years from now.
The principle of giving thanks remains the same in 2009 as it did in 1621. There is much for which we can give thanks and indeed, we should.
This Thanksgiving, remember to stop and count your blessings. The staff at the Jamestown Press wishes all of our readers and advertisers a safe and enjoyable holiday.
— Jeff McDonough