November 21, 2010

Thanksgiving 2010

This week we celebrate Thanksgiving. The grade school images of Pilgrims and Indians linger in our minds. Traditionally the Pilgrims celebrated the first Thanksgiving in 1621 with their Indian neighbors. A good harvest meant that the small colony would survive the winter in the new world. This was certainly a reason for the religious refugees to give thanks. Other locations have claimed the honor of the first Thanksgiving, though. Florida, for instance says that the earliest ‘thanksgiving’ celebration was by the Spanish in 1565 in St. Augustine. Virginia, too, notes that a ‘day of thanksgiving’ was in the founding charter 1619. Even Texas lays claim to the being the location because the Spanish explorer Coronado celebrated a thanksgiving Eucharist in 1541 in what is now the Palo Duro Canyon of West Texas.

 Wherever it started, Thanksgiving has only been an actual holiday since 1863, but the date of the celebration varied. It was established as fourth Thursday of November when President Franklin Roosevelt signed it into law on December 26, 1941. Two years later Norman Rockwell painted what has become the iconic Thanksgiving picture as one of his Four Freedoms series. Entitled Freedom from Want, it was published in the Saturday Evening Post in 1943 and then was featured on war bond posters.

Some of us are blessed with having family nearby to share Thanksgiving with. Others will travel to share the home fires. For many, Thanksgiving isn’t the Norman Rockwell painting, but another equally homey gathering. There are others who will not find much to give thanks for.

I hope you will have a lovely, blessed Thanksgiving, however you celebrate, and that you will find a way to offer a helping hand to someone less fortunate.

Next Sunday is the First Sunday of Advent. During the season, I’ll be exploring how we ‘say yes’ to God by looking at the response of Mary, of Joseph, of the Magi, and of the Shepherds. I hope you’ll join me.

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