For as long as I can remember I’ve loved Thanksgiving. Full disclosure, as a child I didn’t much like turkey as I found it a dry version of chicken but that was before turkeys were engineered to taste better. But I liked the fact that it gave me a Thursday and Friday off from school.
And like many children of the 1960s I was heavily influenced by the Peanuts “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving,” and more to the point, Linus’ account of the shared meal between the Pilgrims and the Indians in 1621. Alas, like many historical events, our image has little to do with the actual events. If you want the true story of the first Thanksgiving, let me steer you to Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War by Nathaniel Philbrick.
Nevertheless Thanksgiving has become a time to recognize gratitude. Thanksgiving became a national holiday in 1861, instituted by President Lincoln. He proclaimed it during a time of great suffering, when the future of the nation was in doubt.
Now, near the end of 2021, we have a great deal to fear. Many of our leaders continue to ignore the devastating realities of climate change and our role in its creation. Here in the United States many of our citizens have used victimization to ignore the simplest of truths and the most obvious of events.
And yet we give thanks. Thanksgiving does not depend on optimism, the preponderance of evidence, but on hope. There is darkness in even in our best days but more to the point there is light even in our worst days.
Years from now we will look back on Thanksgiving 2021 and recognize not only what was wrong, but what turned out right. Gratitude (Thanksgiving) allows us to celebrate that now.