Yes, it's the time of year again when we all, from the lowest to the highest, humbly bow our heads & give thanks for all that we have been blessed with! This IS a special time of year; the harvest is all but past ( for most ) & it's a good time to just sit back, relax & enjoy the fruits of our labors. As with Christmas, Easter & a select few other holidays, it's also a pretty convenient time to gather together around a sumptuous feast & the company of family & friends, especially those that we haven't seen in awhile. Why do we find this time of rejoicing to be so convenient? Well, there are several reasons, but maybe one of the most convenient is; TRADITION!
Around this time of year, especially for those who primarily work out of doors for a living, travel is usually less of a luxury; much if not all of their jobs have been completed & though the travel is often more dangerous, it is often more conducive, both monetarily & time-wise! Traditionally as well, Thanksgiving Day ( AKA-Turkey Day ) has been one of the biggest travel holidays, with family & friends sometimes traveling anywhere from the cross-country to the next state over.
The question of 'why' is a rather easy one to answer; 'everybody's doing it'! This is the way it's been done since that 'fabled feast' celebrated by Pilgrim & Puritan in 1621 Plymouth, Massachusets. In actuality, according to a Wikipedia article on the subject, the first recorded Thanksgiving Day in the New World took place on February 21, 1621 when an Irish vessel ( ship ) landed at Plymouth Rock, bringing 'salvation' to a group of failing, starving Pilgrims!
The History of Thanksgiving Day is an interesting one; as a national holiday celebrated nation-wide on the last Thursday of November, we can actually thank Abraham Lincoln & the Civil War for it! However interesting a study it is, this is not why we gather together on this certain day; tradition has much to do with it & the fact that it is in special celebration of the harvest is an even better reason. The biggest & best reason for why we celebrate, though, is in the name itself, 'Thanksgiving Day'! It is a day of thanksgiving, a day set apart, not unlike Sunday for most Christians, for the purpose of giving thanks to our Creator, Provider & Heavenly Father!
However ( or even whether ) we choose to celebrate this most special of holidays ( second only to Christmas ), we should ask ourselves, 'why celebrate it only once a year?'! The answer to this question could be as simple as 'TRADITION', but it can also be as complex as conflicting scheduling to inclement weather or any variety of other difficulties. In order to gather any group of people, however far or near from around the country or even state for the purposes of celebration takes two main things, time & money, often plenty of both!
Being thankful, as we all know, but should consider especially at this time of year, in this 'Season of Thanksgiving', is something we can & should celebrate every day & with every fiber of our being! This is not to say that we should not set aside one particular day of the year ( or week ) for the purposes of thanking & praising the Creator for the Goodness of the Harvest, there's nothing inherently wrong with that, but in our human capacities, there is the tendency, as with Sunday, to relegate our thankfulness to this certain season & after to return to the drudgery of 'normal', everyday life! This again is not to say that everyone who upholds this holiday is like this either & is thankful for this season only ( okay, maybe the next one too ), but as we do celebrate our Thanksgiving Day here in a few days, let's all remember what we're thankful for & why; we need to celebrate, to whatever extent, our thanksgiving every day, in all we do & say!
This Thanksgiving Day, as we brave the weather of the season ( whatever that might be ) to gather with friends & family to lift a glass of cheer in celebration of the harvest, let us remember that thanksgiving is like life! Every day that we spend above ground is a reason to be thankful; each moment that we have been given to spend with loved ones is a reason to celebrate! Let's lift the glass of cheer, not only the day after tomorrow in celebration of our Thanksgiving, but everyday let us live our life in thanksliving for the joy we have found!
Charles Haddon Shank