Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

thanksgiving_cat This is a special holiday, and I find myself thankful for much.  I’m thankful that I’m back online.  I’m thankful that I won my SSDI appeal.  I’m thankful that I’ll have health coverage in five days.  I’m thankful that I get to pig out today. Most of all I’m thankful that John McConJob is not President and Snake Oil Sarah Mooseolini is not VP.  Here’s a bit of Thanksgiving history.

Thanksgiving: the day America sets aside for family, for remembrance. It’s a day of Pilgrims, Native Americans, turkey and pumpkin pie but if it wasn’t for a persistent female magazine editor, we may not have the day to celebrate today. It was Sarah Josepha Hale who really pushed hard for a permanent national Thanksgiving celebration. But her involvement was far down the road from the first Thanksgiving.

The first Thanksgiving celebration held in America occurred in 1619. On December fourth of that year, thirty-eight English settlers arrived at the Berkeley Plantation in Virginia. Part of their original charter stated that they would set aside that day every year and observe it as a day of Thanksgiving. Due to the hardships of those early times and various other factors, the celebration turned out to be a short-lived occurrence.

The next recorded celebration is also the most famous. Plymouth, Massachusetts, 1621. The first winter the Pilgrims had in the ‘New World’ was a brutal one (nearly half of those who came over on the Mayflower died). Times did eventually grow easier on them though, the following harvest season was so bountiful in fact that the Pilgrims decided to hold a feast for celebration and thanksgiving. This ‘festival’, which lasted three days, included the participation of nearly one hundred Native Americans. Governor William Bradford had invited the natives to show them appreciation, for helping his colony survive through the harsh weather conditions.

The next ‘thanksgiving’ celebration did not occur until 1623. This year the Pilgrims were again hit with a great natural hardship, a draught. In the hope of bringing much needed rain, they gathered together in a prayer service. The next morning it started to rain and it rained long and hard for the next several days. When it became apparent that the crops (and the colonists) would survive, Governor Bradford declared that they would hold another day of thanksgiving (the Indians were again invited). As other settlers came to the country, they held their own thanksgiving celebrations, but each celebration was independent of the next.

In 1668 the Plymouth General Court tried to bring some order to the celebration by declaring November 25th to be Thanksgiving. It was a proclamation that only lasted within the colony for five years.

How Thanksgiving came to be held on a Thursday is not widely know. A very logical belief is that the first Thanksgivings were held on Thursday (and in some cases Wednesday) so as to not interfere with the Sabbath. During these times, the Sabbath was an extremely important day; Saturday was a day of preparation and Monday was out to give the Sabbath it’s proper respect so with these ‘restrictions’ Thursday becomes an easy choice.

The first national celebration of Thanksgiving occurred in 1777. This one-time only event occurred at this time also as a way to celebrate the American defeat of the British at Saratoga.

The day worked it’s way on and off local calendars until 1789 when George Washington made the first Presidential proclamation declaring Thanksgiving a national event. The first Thanksgiving held under this proclamation occurred on November 26 of that year. The pattern was set.

When he was named as the Second President of the United States, John Adams, in an effort to be different, declared a day of Thanksgiving but moved it from Thursday to the Wednesday previous. Finding it brought more resistance than he felt it was worth, Adams relented and changed the day back.

When it was Thomas Jefferson’s turn as President, he decided against the idea of Thanksgiving. At this time, many were against the idea of taking a day to honor the hard times of a few pilgrims. And so it went for nearly sixty years, until Sarah Josepha Hale came to bat.

A magazine editor, Hale wrote strong editorials in many of the popular magazines of the time (including Boston Ladies’ Magazine and Godey’s Lady’s Book), she also wrote letters to anyone and everyone (including Presidents, Governors, Congress members and others) who might help her cause. She was concerned with her belief that the country needed to set aside a day to give thanks ‘unto him from who all blessings flow’.

Finally she struck the right chord with Abraham Lincoln and in 1863, Hale saw her dream realized as the President declared the last Thursday of November as a national day of Thanksgiving...

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I wish you all a happy Thanksgiving in the sincere hope that you have much for which to be thankful.  Enjoy the day.

Now to discuss today’s key political issue…

What’s for dinner?

I’m having turkey, yams, stuffing, steamed veggies, cranberry sauce and cranberry cookies.


Punkypenny said...

I have a "slightly" different version of the story of Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving! =)

Karen said...

Happy turkey day!

Jack Jodell said...

Thanks to you and Punkypenny for the marvelous background accounts on Thanksgiving. TomCat, all of us who follow you can be thankful for your wonderful common sense, fairness, compassion, reasoning ability, and friendly and upbeat demeanor---and that's EVERY day! :) Have a fabulous turkey day, and do eat, drink, and be merry!

Sue said...

Happy Thanksgiving Tom! I'm thankful for your friendship and all those I have come to know here in political blogland, you guys are THE BEST!!

I hope your meal tastes as good as it sounds!

Gwendolyn H. Barry said...

Great TDay history! Giving thanks for your coverage, too! Good on you! Great blog, ever rolling. Thankful to have found you! Have an awesome Turkey Day, my friend. :-)

Oso said...

thanks for the link.

TomCat,Jack,Gwen and Sue-have a great day off today.try not to do anything constructive!

TomCat said...

Thanks, Penny. Your version is certainly correct. My entry was designed to celebrate, not to analyze.

Thanks Karen, Jack, Sue, Gwen, and Oso.

I'm also thankful for all the great readers whose participation makes this blog what it is.

Off to cook. Cya tomorrow!!

TRUTH 101 said...

Have a great Thanksgiving Tomcat. I am very thankful to have discovered your site.

Megaan said...

I added your link on my blog, check it...Thanks for adding my link..All the best for your blog..

jasondylan said...


Great name! Great site!

Thanks for the adding me to the blogroll.

Really great job here Tom. I am so glad to have found this site.

Let's toast to those less fortunate and to a world with more peace and justice in it.

Peace be with you and your loved ones this holiday season!

Robert Rouse said...

Happy Turkey Day, Tom Turkey - uh, I mean, TomCat!

TomCat said...

Thanks Truth!

LOL Robert!!

TomCat said...

Thanks Jason, Amen to that!

Thanks, Megaan, Works like a charm.