THANKSGIVING - by Tamara Mason

There were one hundred and two passengers that departed England for the new world in 1620. These individuals wished to pursue their respective religions and live according to their beliefs. They felt that the new world would provide them with new opportunities and a new way of life. It took them sixty six days to cross the Atlantic Ocean. Of the one hundred and two passengers who boarded the ship, only fifty three passengers survived the trip. They landed on the shores of Plymouth, Massachusetts in September, 1620 and were unaware of the many challenges they would face. And, as history tells us, many of those fifty three passengers who actually made the trip did not survive that first year. But for the few who survived, they hoped this new land would provide new opportunities and looked forward to a better way of life than the one they had left behind.

Tamara Swan Mason - Author

They made friends with the Indians who taught them to fish and hunt and plant the native foods. They lived on the ship until their homes were built. Thankful for the successful first year they gave thanks in 1621 by celebrating with a three day feast with the Indians. This was actually the first Thanksgiving weekend. While there was no Macy's parade which did not arrive until 1924 or football games to enjoy, they gave thanks for their new home and bountiful crops and looked forward to creating successful lives for themselves and their families.

The first National Thanksgiving was declared by President Washington in 1789. However, it did not become a yearly occurrence. In 1827 a female writer by the name of Sara Josepha Hale, a magazine editor, began to write letters suggesting that Thanksgiving become a national holiday. In 1863 Lincoln declared the 4th Thursday in November as Thanksgiving Day. While the populace celebrated Thanksgiving each year, it wasn't until 1941 when President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a bill in Congress declaring the 4th Thursday in November as the official day of Thanksgiving.

As we look back on the first Thanksgiving, we can only imagine what the Pilgrims experienced in forging ahead to bring forth a new nation where they could enjoy the freedoms that they so passionately desired; freedoms that unfortunately we often take for granted. As we gather with friends and family this year and enjoy this great country and its many benefits, let's give thanks for more than the food on the table, but for good health, loving families, the religions that we are able to practice, the jobs we have, and the lives that we are able to pursue. Let's give thanks for this creative spirit that we posses as Americans; this creative spirit that allows us to forge ahead, to explore, to continue to create and to constantly look forward to providing a better way of life for all. Acknowledging these benefits and proclaiming these advantages we can individually, as well as a nation truly give thanks for all our blessings. Happy Thanksgiving

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