A discussion of the American Dream, particularly from the perspective of a rural American, is nothing without taking a look at Thanksgiving, and the cause behinds it’s celebration.
In 1620 the Pilgrim’s traveled to America, the land where they could settle new homes with peace and prosperity. They settled the Plymouth Colony in what came to be Massachusetts. Prosperity was not soon in coming, the first year was brutal and the winter killed off half of their colonists.
The following year of 1621 brought renewed hope to the weary pilgrims.
All summer there was no want. and now, as winter approached, wild fowl began to arrive, of which there were plenty when they came here first, though afterwards they became more scarce. As well as wild fowl, they got abundance of wild turkeys, besides venison, etc. Each person had about a peck of meal a week, or now, since harvest, Indian corn in that proportion; and afterwards many wrote at length about their plenty to their friends in England, – not feigned but true reports.
– Of Plymouth Plantation by William Bradford
As tradition tells, to celebrate their abundance the Pilgrim’s invited the neighboring tribe of Indians, the Wampanoag, to join them in a feast to thank God for their blessings.
There are three distinct reason why Thanksgiving is important in our lives and culture.
Our country was founded on Judo-Christian principles, in the Old Testament God instructed the Israelites to celebrate certain feasts through the year. Each feast represented a memory of what God had done for his people, the feast was a mandated opportunity for parents to teach their children about what God had done for them as a people. Likewise we in America celebrate these holidays, or “holy days” as they originally were, to remember the deeds of the past.
Today we live in a culture of global travel and interconnectedness. Receiving a text from your parent doesn’t have quite the thrill that a message from the pony express ride had.
But in this world of connectivity we have lost connection with family. There has always been an element of mankind that wants to separate from our parents, to travel our own way and forge our own path. In the early days of our nation this was a little more difficult. But now you just need to find a job across the country and you are set. Thanksgiving is an opportunity for families to get together. Sometimes it’s not even our biological families but ones that we have built in our environment of friends and associates. It is a time of community and togetherness.
This can easily be considered a part of remembrance, but I think it’s important enough to mention on it’s own.
I can honestly say I am a selfish person, but I think that if we take a hard look in the mirror, all of us can say that. Thanksgiving reminds us to be thankful for what we have, and to share some of those blessings with others, like our family. When the first Thanksgiving was celebrated it was to thank God for the bounty of the harvest, and that’s why we celebrate it in the Fall. Abraham Lincoln declared it was to be a day of, “Thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwells in the heavens. Turning Thanksgiving into a Federally recognized holiday.
So here’s a thought to leave with: Let’s be thankful for our blessings, but let’s also be thankful for the lessons the bad has taught. The Pilgrim’s wouldn’t have appreciated the abundance of the Fall of 1621 without the Winter of 1620. So lift up a glass, and drink a toast: We remember the good, learn from the bad, and hope for the future.