05 Dec Thanksgiving 2021: A Day To Feel Grateful And Give Hope To Others
Thanksgiving Day Celebration
According to Britannica, Thanksgiving Day is annual national holiday in the United States and Canada celebrating the harvest and other blessings of the past year. Americans generally believe that their Thanksgiving is modeled on a 1621 harvest feast shared by the English colonists (Pilgrims) of Plymouth and the Wampanoag people.
The American holiday is particularly rich in legend and symbolism, and the traditional fare of the Thanksgiving meal typically includes turkey, bread stuffing, potatoes, cranberries, and pumpkin pie. With respect to vehicular travel, the holiday is often the busiest of the year, as family members gather with one another. Thanksgiving Day is celebrated on Thursday, November 25, 2021.
Plymouth’s Thanksgiving began with a few colonists going out “fowling,” possibly for turkeys but more probably for the easier prey of geese and ducks, since they “in one day killed as much as…served the company almost a week.” Next, 90 or so Wampanoag made a surprise appearance at the settlement’s gate, doubtlessly unnerving the 50 or so colonists.
Nevertheless, over the next few days the two groups socialized without incident. The Wampanoag contributed venison to the feast, which included the fowl and probably fish, eels, shellfish, stews, vegetables, and beer. Since Plymouth had few buildings and manufactured goods, most people ate outside while sitting on the ground or on barrels with plates on their laps.
The men fired guns, ran races, and drank liquor, struggling to speak in broken English and Wampanoag. This was a rather disorderly affair, but it sealed a treaty between the two groups that lasted until King Philip’s War (1675–76), in which hundreds of colonists and thousands of Native Americans lost their lives.
The New England colonists were accustomed to regularly celebrating “Thanksgivings,” days of prayer thanking God for blessings such as military victory or the end of a drought.
The U.S. Continental Congress proclaimed a national Thanksgiving upon the enactment of the Constitution, for example. Yet, after 1798, the new U.S. Congress left Thanksgiving declarations to the states; some objected to the national government’s involvement in a religious observance, Southerners were slow to adopt a New England custom, and others took offense over the day’s being used to hold partisan speeches and parades. A national Thanksgiving Day seemed more like a lightning rod for controversy than a unifying force.
Thanksgiving Day did not become an official holiday until Northerners dominated the federal government. While sectional tensions prevailed in the mid-19th century, the editor of the popular magazine Godey’s Lady’s Book, Sarah Josepha Hale, campaigned for a national Thanksgiving Day to promote unity. She finally won the support of President Abraham Lincoln. On October 3, 1863, during the Civil War, Lincoln proclaimed a national day of thanksgiving to be celebrated on Thursday, November 26.
The holiday was annually proclaimed by every president thereafter, and the date chosen, with few exceptions, was the last Thursday in November. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, however, attempted to extend the Christmas shopping season, which generally begins with the Thanksgiving holiday, and to boost the economy by moving the date back a week, to the third week in November.
But not all states complied, and, after a joint resolution of Congress in 1941, Roosevelt issued a proclamation in 1942 designating the fourth Thursday in November (which is not always the last Thursday) as Thanksgiving Day.
Thanks: Moments of Gratitude for God’s Blessings
Ways to Embrace Gratitude
Good circumstances and opportunities can include things like health (definitely not one to take for granted this year!), a job, a place to live, food, having our family and friends or a strong support system – the list goes on. These are often some of the blessings we attribute to God, the universe or a Greater Being, a Higher Power. This leads us to look beyond ourselves.
Shifting our focus from ourselves to someone or something else is a key part of the gratitude process.
Acknowledging the good that other people have done for us also takes us out of ourselves and lets us appreciate others. The people who show their love and support for us could be parents, spouses, children, siblings, grandparents, friends, mentors, supervisors – any source of good and joy in our lives.
Recognizing that others are helping us activates the reward centers of our brains. We become aware of people’s intentions. We appreciate it. The positive thoughts this unleashes helps create hope and optimism – and motivates us to connect.
Gratitude can also impact our overall wellness. This is especially relevant during a time when social isolation, uncertainty and stress are weighing on many of us.
“Take a moment to reflect on the good that this challenging year has brought you,” she says. “Ask yourself: What lessons have I learned from this? In what ways, big or small, have I benefitted during this time?”
Did you take up a new hobby you’ve always wanted to try? Have you re-connected with old friends online? Have you spent more time with family members at home? Have you learned how to multi-task?
2. Keep a gratitude journal.
You can list things you are thankful for in a notebook, write out sticky-notes and post them around your desk or purchase an official gratitude journal, which often includes prompts to help you identify the positives in your life.
3. Express your gratitude.
Any way that you can communicate appreciation for someone works. You can call, text, Zoom or send a thank you note.
You can also try a fun, interactive activity during Thanksgiving Day, whether you’re sitting around a physical dinner table with loved ones or hosting a remote celebration via Zoom.
Here’s how the activity works: Identify one to three adjectives that describe each person you’re celebrating with, and try to remember a moment when they exhibited this quality. For example, “I appreciate your thoughtfulness, like the time you made my favorite dinner without my asking.”
4. Find the good.
In the end, it all comes down to two simple questions: What’s good in my life? And where does that good come from?
Answer that, and you’ll celebrate Thanksgiving every day.
Giving: Giving Hope to Those Who Can’t Afford It
Almost two years into the global pandemic, many people’s financial circumstances have changed, and many of us have also been reconsidering what is worth our time and energy. Giving the food we have to anyone who is unable to reach it is an act that (consciously or unconsciously) reminds us that poverty is still around us. In this beautiful moment of Thanksgiving we need to be grateful for the gifts that God has given us for being able to live in prosperity.