Thanksgiving in North America had originated from a mix of European and Native traditions. Typically in Europe, festivals were held before and after the harvest cycles to give thanks for a good harvest, and to rejoice together after much hard work with the rest of the community. At the time, Native Americans had also celebrated the end of a harvest season. When Europeans first arrived to the Americas, they brought with them their own harvest festival traditions from Europe, celebrating their safe voyage, peace and good harvest. Though the origins of the holiday in both Canada and the United States are similar, Americans do not typically celebrate the contributions made in Newfoundland, while Canadians do not celebrate the contributions made in Plymouth, Massachusetts.Over time it has taken on a new meaning – the start of the Holiday shopping season. Santa generally arrives at the New York City Thanksgiving parade and the craziness starts with every store vying for your attention as you ponder which gifts to buy your loved ones. But I digress.
Giving thanks on one day is of course meaningless if you don’t really feel gratitude for the things you are blessed with. Some of us give thanks for our family, our health, the fact we have a job, or simply the fact that we are better off than others. We think of those less fortunate and perhaps dole out a penny or two to charities that provide meals for the poor and/or sick and feel good that we have done something, albeit little, to help. Many perform that little ceremony and go around the dinner table sharing what we are thankful for, sometimes shedding a tear when a wee one says something poignant.
What does it all mean unless we practice giving thanks every day? We should, of course and most of us do, but sometimes I think we tend to take things for granted assuming that we will continue in the lifestyle we have become accustomed to without realizing that all too often one event, natural or otherwise, can change our lives dramatically. But before I get into an even more cynical mood, I wish you are yours a Happy Thanksgiving; may you be blessed with all you hope for, for now and forever.