colonies, right? You know, the one where Captain John Woodlief and those 38
colonists who had just had arrived in the Virginia colonies from Berkeley,
England and set aside a day of giving thanks to God at the Berekley Hundred
(later renamed Berkley Plantation) on December 4, 1619 where Woodlief
"Wee ordaine that the day of our ships arrivall at the place assigned
for plantacon in the land of Virginia shall be yearly and perpetually keept
holy as a day of Thanksgiving to Almighty God."
Oh, you haven't heard that story? That because those Johnny-come-lately
Pilgrims from Massachusetts arrived at Plymouth Rock with a publicist, so
that now everyone just "knows' that the first Thanksgiving was in
Massachusetts with the Pilgrims after the whole colony almost froze to death
following that first bitter winter in 1622. But the very FIRST Thanksgiving
Day was in Virginia. OK, so actually the first Thanksgiving in the New World
was one led by Spanish explorer Juan de Onate held one near El Paso, Texas
in 1598, but that one doesn't count because it was in Texas! They probably
had chili and burritos and guacamole or something (actually, that sounds
At any rate, the idea of a Thanksgiving Day was not held as a "perpetual"
celebration in either Massachusetts or Virginia. Thanksgiving Day was never
more than a local and sporadic event until until Abraham Lincoln made it an
annual national holiday observance in 1863. Which means that "first"
thanksgiving in Massachusetts took place after a bitter winter almost
destroyed a whole colony and the first national Thanksgiving Day was
observed DURING the tragedy of the Civil War that almost destroyed our
nation. We still observe Thanksgiving Day, but it has little to do with
struggle and more to do with eating ourselves silly and then complaining
about how stuffed we feel!
But that's not the real problem with Thanksgiving. The real problem is that
we set aside this one day to reflect on and give thanks for our blessings
(in which we overindulge) and then ONE DAY later. we rush out for "Black
Friday," the biggest shopping day of the year. We forget all about
Thanksgiving Day in our rush to run out and get more stuff. The idea of
Thanksgiving was born from struggle and the awareness of God's goodness
despite our difficulty and hardship. Now we seem to believe that we deserve
all the good things we have, and we can't even have of day of reflection on
Thanksgiving without turning it into an excuse to shop until we drop getting
more, more, more. Will Rogers drew this contrast between Thanksgiving Day
then and now:
"In the days of our founders, people were willing to give thanks for
mighty little, for mighty little was all that they expected. But now neither
government nor nature can give enough but what we think is too little. In
the fall of the year, if the founders could gather in a few pumpkins, some
potatoes, and some corn for the winter, they were in a thanking mood. But if
we can't gather in a new car, a new radio...and some government relief, why
we feel that the world is against us."
It's ironic that the more and more we have for which to be thankful,
the harder and harder it is seems to get to be truly thankful. As the late
Andy Rooney would say, "Why is that?"
--Charles Tucker, Jr.
Have a great day! ( and a great Thanksgiving!)