As a holiday, Thanksgiving has had its ups and downs. If we are to believe the lore, it was the first American holiday. The legend has it starting about 150 years before the American Revolution. The internet will tell you that Thanksgiving as a feast day actually predated the British landings in America, but it hardly matters. Here in the good old U.S. of A, we point back to the winter of 1621 or 1623 and the story of how a small group of settlers made friends with local residents so neither had to starve or freeze.
It was also one of the first federal holidays, being declared by President Lincoln in 1863. It was further codified during the second world war to be the fourth Thursday in November. The oft-quoted statistic that Thanksgiving was moved to give people more shopping days before Christmas may or may not be a myth.
Looked at another way
Go back far enough in history and you’ll realize something. Our values have changed so much that practically any action from the 17th century will be controversial today. The English came to this continent, which was already populated by a civilization similarly advanced to their own (but different in its culture) and declared ownership. After the “first Thanksgiving,” Englishpeople (later US residents) embarked on a 200-year-long streak of genocide, wiping out not only the Wampanoag who befriended them but untold millions of natives for no other reason than they could.
This is an especially inconvenient fact about Thanksgiving, and it is just the first of many cruel facts about the separatist culture (which we call Puritans or Pilgrims, although not everyone who came over really belonged to either group.) Separatists believed in strict gender roles, in corporal punishment, and in extremely cruel ways of punishing relatively minor crimes. They also, by virtue of the time in which they lived, had extremely bad hygiene, practically no possessions, and generally limited skills.
Thanksgiving in the 21st century
History is open to interpretation in some ways.In other ways history is a set of established facts. However, here in the twenty-first century we can choose. We can decide to be tethered to the past or embrace the present and future. We can choose, all of us, to be thankful for each other. Our long-dead ancestors may have behaved rightly or wrongly, but we don’t have to act the same. We can, in a mirror of the Thanksgiving story, reach out an unlikely hand in friendship.
This is a time when many people spend time with their families, including people who hold different beliefs. With the world in which we live, it seems like we’re more separate than ever. Thanksgiving gives us an opportunity to learn how to live with each other for one day. One day, that’s all it takes.
Our offices are closed today
We’re spending time with our own families today and our offices in Novi, Michigan, are closed. We’ll be back tomorrow but in the meantime feel free to place orders on our web site and we’ll fill them as soon as we can. Our whole crew wishes you a happy, safe and peaceful Thanksgiving. And, remember that the choice to reach out and try to understand someone else is yours to make. It’s never too late and it’s never the wrong thing. You may not end up agreeing, but you may at least end up understanding something you didn’t before.