By Kevin Devlin
Thanksgiving Day has arrived once again as we gather with family and friends giving thanks for our good fortune in life. We’ll overeat and watch football games or holiday movies on TV. We’ll laugh at jokes and retell stories of the past we hold dear to our hearts. We’ll remember loved ones no longer amongst us and toast our undying love for them. We’ll reflect upon our yesteryears and take stock of what is important to us at this juncture in our lives. And we should be grateful.
On what was then known as the Plymouth Plantation, the first Thanksgiving was celebrated by early settlers after their first harvest in 1621. One year prior to this, in search of a new life and freedom from religious persecution, about 102 Pilgrims endured a sixty-six day voyage from England across the Atlantic Ocean, on the now-famous ship, the Mayflower. The inaugural feast lasted three days and was attended by ninety Native Americans, and fifty-three of the Pilgrims who traveled from the Old World to the New World, the other half sadly succumbing to untimely deaths.
After Congress requested a proclamation by President George Washington, Thanksgiving, originally known as the harvest festival, has been celebrated nationally on and off since 1789. On October 3, 1863, our greatest president, Abraham Lincoln, announced that (on the last Thursday in November) Thanksgiving would be an official holiday in the country. He proclaimed it as a day of “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.”
Thanksgiving affords us the time to slow down and reflect. Daily life can be hectic, grueling. That’s why it’s important we pause and enjoy life’s blessings. Enjoy and be thankful for our good fortune because “The unthankful heart…discovers no mercies; but let the thankful heart sweep through the day and, as the magnet finds the iron, so will it find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings!”
Today, more than at any other time in recent history, our nation is divided. Those on opposite sides of the political spectrum refuse to yield an inch to bridge the gap. Moderation and Compromise are orphans. Reason has been abandoned. We look down one road and ignore the other roadways as irrelevant, the wrong direction in which to travel. We ignore the sign posts as if we shouldn’t adhere to them. They don’t count, weren’t meant for us. But I have faith in our resiliency. Faith in our resolve to restore reason and successfully combat divisiveness so a new dawn (a time for new beginnings) can glow brightly like the sun; guiding us down a loftier path towards solidarity and peace of mind.
Our problems pale in comparison to those suffered by people in other countries, and notwithstanding our problems, we are fortunate to be Americans, because America is still the greatest country in the world; and democracy the “best of the worse” without a scintilla of doubt. Remember that “It is literally true, as the thankless say, that they have nothing to be thankful for. He who sits by the fire, thankless for the fire, is just as if he had no fire. Nothing is possessed save in appreciation, of which thankfulness is the indispensable ingredient. But a thankful heart hath a continual feast.”
So, appreciate Thanksgiving and good fortune. Embrace the fulfillment of life, happiness, security, and safety. And sneak a snack before bed-just for the hell of it-and once again give thanks for all that we have.