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It’s time to be thankful
While 2020 has been an unusual stressful year with the current pandemic, it’s time for everyone to be thankful for what we do have.
Having a big festival meal with family and friends may not be the best way to celebrate Thanksgiving this year as it appears COVID-19 is still a threat unless we continue to practice social distancing to stop the threat of the virus spreading.
Except for one time in the past seven years, Betty and I have celebrated Thanksgiving by assisting with and attending the meal at First United Methodist in Munday where up to 800 people were fed. It’s a shame, but that heartwarming event has been canceled this year. Along with other readers, we hope it can be renewed next year.
This year we have the sad experience of going to a memorial service for our sister-in-law in Rockport, but will definitely be wearing masks and doing all the necessary social distancing with our nephews and nieces because of our recent experience of testing positive.
I did want to share an interesting story that many may have already heard before about how today’s Thanksgiving celebration actually started.
What Americans think they know about the celebration doesn’t always square with what historian discovered. While they agree the Pilgrims invited Wampanoag Indians to a feast to celebrate their first harvest in 1621 at Plymouth Colony, turkey wasn’t on the menu as it is today. Instead, venison and a kind of waterfowl, maybe goose or duck or both, was served, likely stuffed with onions and herbs, along with lobsters, clams and mussels. No desserts were included.
Americans have not been celebrating Thanksgiving annually since 1621, guess again. Nobody thought of it as the start of a new annual tradition, and there had been similar gatherings elsewhere earlier. Historians report there was another feast in the colony in 1623—but it was held earlier that year. Different colonies celebrated their own days of thanksgiving during the year, too.
The first time Thanksgiving was celebrated in all of America came when President George Washington declared Thursday, Nov. 26, 1789 a holiday, but only for that year; and it wasn’t connected to the Pilgrim feast at all. Instead, it was intended as a “public thanksgiving and prayer” devoted to “the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be.”
Instead, credit for creating today’s celebration goes to Sarah Josepha Hale, editor of Godey’s Lady’s Book. She read about the 1621 feast and became captivated about the idea of turning it into a national holiday. Her lobbying efforts paid off in 1863 as President Abraham Lincoln set Thanksgiving as an official holiday to be celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November every year.
That’s when the myth of the presidential pardon of the turkey was thought to have started. It seems Lincoln’s son Tad became fond of a particular turkey and begged his father to save the animal. Historians found the only problem with that story was that Tad’s plea was to save the Christmas turkey. Today’s pardon celebration only goes back to 1989 when President George H.W. Bush pardoned the first turkey.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt did move the annual Thanksgiving holiday to the third Thursday of November in 1939 because he wanted to help the economy, making the Christmas shopping season a little longer. However, there was so much opposition that Roosevelt changed it to the fourth Thursday in November two years later.
In closing, I think we here in Knox County should count our blessings.
There really shouldn’t be anyone going hungry during the holidays, thanks to the food pantries in Knox City and Munday; the Believers Chapel’s food donations; the canned-food drives at Benjamin and Munday schools; the meals provided by the schools to students; the meals provided to seniors by the Knox County Aging Center; and the Munday First United Methodist youths’ deliveries of products to shut-ins for Thanksgiving.