Friday, November 4, 2011


I know this is a loaded questions and one to which there may actually be no answer but here it is......

What is your idea of Thanksgiving?  By this I mean, what does it actually mean to you?  Is it just a day filled with food, family, festivities, fun, football, etc, etc, etc?  Oh yes, and don't forget Charlie Brown and company in Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade !

Or is there a deeper meaning for you? 

I'm stretching my memory here for my elementary school years, but I can still remember Ms. Bastinelli, Ms. Norris, Mrs. Jones, Mrs. Garrison, and others at McKinley Elementary School teaching about Thanksgiving and it's meaning.  We learned about a group of religious dissidents who believed it was necessary to separate from the Church of England.  Persecuted in England, these "Separatists" moved to Holland in 1607/1608.  The group, joined by other colonists recruited by the venture's financial backers, began the move to America in 1620 upon the Mayflower, the first of four ships used in the crossing. 
We learned of their inititial hardships the first year.  During the first winter in the New World, the colonists suffered greatly from diseases like scurvy, lack of shelter, and general conditions onboard ship. Forty-five of the 102 emigrants died the first winter. Additional deaths during the first year meant that only 53 people were alive in November 1621 to celebrate the First Thanksgiving.  Of the 18 adult women, 13 died the first winter, while another died in May. Only four adult women were left alive for the Thanksgiving.  No women died aboard the ship, though a newborn baby and three men, including the captain, did.  Anyway, the event that Americans commonly call the "First Thanksgiving" was celebrated to give thanks to God for guiding them safely to the New World.  The first Thanksgiving feast lasted 3 days, and provided enough food for 53 pilgrims and 90 Native Americans.  Some of the foods they ate at that celebration are still incorporated in one form or another, into our Thanksgiving dinners today such as:  corn, squash, duck, turkey, venison, berries and fruit, vegetables (peas, pumpkins, and potatoes). 

I say all that to say....I don't think we are properly teaching many of our children the real meaning of Thanksgiving.  I have had grandchildren come home from school on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving with a little drawing of a turkey or a pilgrim hat or an Indian feather, but you ask them to explain what Thanksgiving is all about and many of them go back to the holiday with family and friends and food.  Do you know of any children or young people that no matter how much they have, they just are not satisfied?  I have seen children rip open present after present on Christmas and instead of showing any real interest in what they have in front of them, they are looking for more.  There just seems to be something missing.....dare I say gratitude?

Gratitude is a simple act of showing appreciation and being thankful.  It doesn't take up a lot of our time or effort to be thankful so why is it that people are not showing appreciation for the things that they are receiving in life?

We often have the mentality that we ar entitled to little things in life.  This causes us to be ungrateful and think that things should happen in a certain way for us.  I thoroughly believe that people with this mind set will never be really happy no matter what they acquire, because they will feel they are always lacking.  A vicious cycle if you will....the more you have the more you want, the more you feel you are entitled to because someone else has it.  I guess being born poor (although we didn't realize it, because most of our friends were poor too) I have learned not only to be grateful, but to marvel at what I have in my life.  I'm sure not much by many standards, but abundance to me, because of what I see on cable televsion channels like Travel, National Geographic, A&E, and others every day in many third world countries.  Countries in Africa, Latin America, Asia where there is no clean water to drink.  Food is at a premium, sometimes totally dependent upon aid from other countries such as...wait for it...United States of America.  Some of our associates (I dare not call them friends) with ungrateful attitudes should wake up in one of these countries like Vic Morrow in the Twilight Zone Movie.  I'd be willing to bet if they made it back over here, they would look at what they had with a whole new perspective. 

No matter how bad some of the people in this country think things are, or how ungrateful they are for what they have, just think about the people that are dying - literally - everyday trying to get into this country.  They are swimming, digging underground tunnels, climbing fences, crossing deserts, you name it, they are trying it to get here for a better life, much like the pilgrims.  I bet you when they make it here, they know how and why they are celebrating.  So we make think it's broken, but we are living in one of the greatest nations in the world.  I used to say with pride "The Greatest" and I hope to soon be able to use that label again. 

Oh, you thought I wasn't going to talk about reading?  Come on now, you know me better than that!  Another thing I am thankful for is being able to go into a bookstore, a library, a trift store, a grocery store, an airport, the list goes on and on and on....and be able to pick up a book to buy, rent, borrow, trade.  There are still communist countries where even what you read or see on television or hear on radio is restricted to what the government wants you to read or see or hear.

Yes, my friends, I know what Thanksgiving is all about......comment with your point/counterpoints.  I eagerly await any and all debates. 

Oh yes, and enjoy your celebrations.  I have nothing against them, I am going to indulge myself.  I can hardly wait for my sister's pie.  I don't even care what kind of pie....mmmm mmmm mmmm!  But let us not forget the reason we are celebrating....

And in closing, some Thanksgiving reads:

Berne, Suzanne. Ghost at the Table
Thanksgiving at the New England home of the second of three sisters marks a reunion between the three Fiske sisters–including Cynthia, the youngest, an author writing a book about Mark Twain’s daughters–and their long-estranged father, in a portrait of the unraveling of a family, set against the famous nineteenth-century author’s own family dysfunction.

Bittle, Camilla. Dear Family
In this Massachusetts setting, Ed Beane loses his job in 1935, his wife, two children, and widowed mother must go to live with Dorothy’s mother on her farm, where they continue to support each other through a series of family celebrations.

Bowden, Susan. Bitter Harvest.
An estranged grandmother and granddaughter have a Thanksgiving reunion in this tale of romantic suspense.

Boyle, T. Coraghessan. The Tortilla Curtain.
Illegal Mexican immigrants clash through a series of coincidences with a wealthy Jewish family in California around the Thanksgiving holiday.

Cross, Amanda. A Trap for Fools
Kate Fansler Mystery

Davis, Krista. The Diva Runs Out of Thyme.
Determined to take down her childhood rival at the Stupendous Stuffing Shakedown, Sophie Winston instead finds herself accused of murder when her quest for basting the perfect turkey goes horribly wrong, in a mystery complete with tasty recipes and entertaining tips. Domestic Diva series; bk.1.

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