Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Come on America! Be Thankful!

The 2012  Election season is over (thank goodness!!!).  Thanksgiving is just over a week away.  Scandal is rocking the CIA.  And the other top story?  Black Friday is moving to 8pm Thanksgiving wonder the rest of the world shakes their collective heads at us.

I get it that the economy needs a boost.  I know there are people who are thankful to have seasonal jobs.  But really, can't we truly celebrate Thanksgiving.... just one day...24 hours? 

Our society is so rushed to buy, buy, buy for the much so that Christmas decorations are stocked at the same time Halloween stuff comes out.  We barely acknowledge Veterans' Day anymore.  Will it long before we just skip Thanksgiving?

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.  I love the idea of coming together with family and friends and celebrating each other and considering all the blessings we share.  I love the opportunity to just BE with my loved ones.  I love the traditions...the recipes...and the history of this holiday. 

We were taught about the Pilgrims and Native Americans celebrating the first Thanksgiving in 1621 as a way to thank God and each other for getting through the first years of a difficult settlement in the New World.  A three day celebration of prayer, feasting and getting to know your neighbor was a the heart of the event.

In November,1623, the Pilgrims celebrated their second Thanksgiving after surviving a terrible drought and saving enough provisions for the winter to come.  It was at this time, Governor Bradford established an annual day of Prayer and Thanksgiving upon which future Thanksgiving customs would hail.  The Pilgrims being an austere bunch focused mainly on prayer and not so much forecasting was not reliable, so food stores were conserved.

From 1789 until 1827, days of Thanksgiving were often proclaimed by Presidents...George Washington being the first, who called upon the new nation to spend a day reflecting, praying and healing from the wounds of the American Revolution and the subsequent squabbles among the states still trying to figure this democratic-republican experiment out. Each state or region celebrated these days of Thanksgiving according to local customs and traditions.

In 1827, a magazine writer and author of Mary Had A Little Lamb, Sarah Josepha Hale, campaigned for a national day of Thanksgiving upon which, the nation would come together as one to honor the growth and accomplishments of this grand experiment called the United States of America.  She would petition the federal government for another 36 years before her dream would be actualized.  In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln took Sarah Hale's petition to heart and declared that the final Thursday on November would be a national day of Thanksgiving upon which, he requested that all Americans ask God to “commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife” and to “heal the wounds of the nation.”   And for 112 years, Thanksgiving was celebrated as a day of reflection and prayer.  Over the course of the next 100 years, parades and feasts and family traditions would evolve, and the mood of the holiday would lighten.

In 1939, President Franklin Roosevelt asked Congress to move Thanksgiving up a week in order to boost holiday retails sales following the Great Depression (This concept of boosting sales was called Franksgiving...and not in a nice way!).  The idea was not supported and in 1941, FDR signed a bill establishing the fourth Thursday of November as Thanksgiving Day.  It was at this time that Thanksgiving morphed from a day of prayer to the more familiar notion of family, food, football and fun.  The Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade which started in 1924, is linked to the commercialization of the day, moving away from a day of prayer and giving thanks to spending, spending, spending!

Somewhere in the early twentieth century, the Pilgrims and Native Americans returned to being the icons of the day...lending an historic bent to the holiday, but somewhere in time, and perhaps at the end of the Macy's parade, Santa Claus became linked to Thanksgiving and instead of being celebrated for its own merits and sake, Thanksgiving has become the official start of the Christmas/Happy Holiday season.

And now, the official season of spending, and thanks to our "Blue Laws"outside of Massachusetts anyway, is beginning at 8pm on Thursday, Thanksgiving Night.  How sad.

On the news, I actually heard someone from Target promoting the earlier opening for Black Friday as a way for people to get out and work off their turkey hitting those sales at long last, an end to obesity in America...Woo Hoo!

I am having a hard time with this.  One of the reasons I love Thanksgiving so much is that is celebrates the blessings we as a nation, as Americans, as families have and can share.  It doesn't matter what religion you subscribe to... it doesn't require life long citizenship... Thanksgiving doesn't require a lifestyle...the day just asks us to stop, reflect, be prayerful or thoughtful and thankful for all that has been bestowed on us as a nation and her citizens and guests.  Thanksgiving is 24 hours...ONE day to be truly grateful and count our blessings and to pray for those who are struggling or have sacrificed to make our lives better.  24 hours...but if you let it, it will shrink to 20 hours and then what?    Halloween has a season as does Christmas...and poor Thanksgiving...the one day for being mushed out...Take back Thanksgiving America!  Be grateful...not greedy...spend time with your family and friends instead of spending $$...

There is a Shaker hymn called "Simple Gifts" and it says,
"Tis the gift to be simple,'tis the gift to be free,
'Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
'Twill be in the valley of love and delight."

This is my inner soundtrack for the holiday...As for our home, we shall honor Thanksgiving all day...and I assure you, we keep it in our hearts always.

Happy Thanksgiving.