As We prepare for Thanksgiving, the travel, family, friends and a feast, too many individual traditions are there to mention. Some may volunteer to serve those who through circumstances are homeless while others may take time to visit retirement communities.
Some will remember our troops in various ways and I hope we all take a moment to thank them for all they do to maintain our freedoms.
There will be laughter, prayers, football, food and stories told tomorrow.
Some will, no doubt, speak of the first Thanksgiving, the Pilgrims, the Indians, their hardships and how they came together.
I would, this year, like to take you back to a Thanksgiving long ago which most never think of on this holiday.
Before Thanksgiving WAS an official holiday it was still celebrated. Perhaps now as we celebrate it today but, indeed it did hold meaning.
The Thanksgiving of which I hope you will remember is that of 1776.
A newly declared independent nation was at war.
Thanksgiving was no longer thought of as a Puritan or holiday of religion although the thanking of God was a certain factor. In 1776, it was a holiday for Patriots.
Traveling to the home of relatives was generally not done unless of course, those relatives lived in your community. Distance was one thing and naturally, by carriage or horseback, such travel would have been quite time consuming.
No, it was the danger of traveling in 1776. On THAT Thanksgiving, those who celebrated, as Patriots, would have become a target of the British army.
Thanksgiving in 1776 would have been somewhat subdued and spoken of ahead of time in hushed tones.
Neighbors likely would have come together and shared the meal and in some places, where the sound of muskets had been heard in previous days or where the British had been spotted nearby, curtains would have been drawn or window shutters closed.
No need to draw attention to a gathering, a large meal or anything else that would signal a Patriot lived there.
In some ways, that Thanksgiving, in 1776, was very similar to Thanksgiving 2012.
Families who celebrated at home were incomplete. Fathers, brothers and sons were away from home, fighting for freedom.
Families didn’t know exactly where their loved ones were or when they might return. Some had already lost a loved one to the war and others had returned home, injured.
Unlike today, in 1776, word of a family member in the war was scarce. The social media of the day back then was a hastily hand written letter. Those letters would take, in many cases, weeks to be delivered if they were delivered at all. Many fell into the hands of the British and were destroyed.
Those lucky enough to receive a letter still didn’t know for sure, at the time they read the letter, of the one who had written it was still alive.
Given the tension of war…A war taking place on the lands of Patriots, in their towns and cities or near enough to hear the canons roar, why celebrate Thanksgiving at all?
For those IN the service of a new nation, that Thanksgiving in 1776 would have been meager. The meal in most cases not grand if there was a meal to be had at all.
But, there WAS Thanksgiving.
It was about moral.
Throughout the war of independence, Thanksgiving was celebrated to boost moral. The moral of the troops and the moral of those at home waiting for their return or word of their fate.
Thanks was given for those who fought and for those who held the home front.
Thanks for the opportunity of a new beginning.
Isn’t that what those first Pilgrims celebrated too?
Thanks for a new beginning?
In 1776, Thanksgiving would have also been a celebration of Patriot spirit, and of freedom.
Thanksgiving means many things to many people. We all have traditions we celebrate and different cultures hold different traditions.
Regardless of the differences, there should always be one binding element.
In 1776, Thanksgiving was the first such celebration in a fresh new nation.
As you celebrate this year and as you give thanks, remember those who fight in far away places this Thanksgiving day. Thank also those who, throughout our history, have worn our country’s uniform and the sacrifices they and their families made.
And while you’re giving thanks, thank too those Patriots who, in 1776, stood tall in the face of tyranny and championed freedom for without them, without their families and the sacrifices they gave, we would not be a nation, independent, today.
Happy Thanksgiving and may God bless you and keep you and yours safe from harm today and every day. May God bless those who stand in harm’s way for us and our freedom today and throughout history. We thank God for them, all of them and their families and friends. We thank God for all we have and all we are. We thank God for freedom and liberty and for the opportunities we have been given.
And we thank God for those who, in 1776, stood up and gave us a nation.