Thanksgiving…what a concept!

A uniquely American event takes place on the last Thursday of every November. We call it THANKSGIVING.  The history, the traditions, the rituals have been passed down generation to generation for nearly 400 years…a mighty long time when you consider the relative youth of this country.


English: "The First Thanksgiving at Plymo...

English: “The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth” (1914) By Jennie A. Brownscombe (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


The year was 1621.  English settlers in the area of Plymouth Massachussetts shared an autumnal feast with the local Wampanoag Indians.  They were so thrilled and thankful to have survived in a hostile new land that they created a celebratory dinner with their new found friends.  In 1863,  at the height of the Civil War, a year of some of the bloodiest and savage battles, President Lincoln proclaimed a national day of THANKSGIVING to be observed every November.  A most noble and humble thought during a time of great stress, sorrow and pain in the national conscience.


The Peacemakers.

The Peacemakers. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


It’s no secret.  Americans have much to be thankful for.  Even the most challenged amongst us live a life far more secure and comfortable than most of the world.  With all of her deficiencies,  America is still amongst the places on earth where great numbers of people yearn to be. With all of the many  problems we have here why would that be?


I think the answer is fairly simple.  Opportunity.  The chance to make a decent living.  The ability to raise a family in an environment of relative stability.  The opportunity to freely observe whatever cultural or religious rituals each of us holds dear. We take these things for granted.  Most of the world does not.  Most of the world is concerned with where the next good meal is coming from.  Most of the world is anxious that the water they are drinking is pure,  if indeed there is any water to drink at all.  Most of the world is hopeful that their government will not harm them in a some insane violent manner.


There is so much to be thankful for.  It is sometimes true that we as a people have a very inflated opinion of ourselves and our country, possibly because during the last 240 years or so we have accomplished so much.  Our technology is truly astounding.  But I paraphrase the Dalai Lama when I say that perhaps a great deal of the rage and divisive behavior that is occurring in the world, and America in particular,  is the result of technology outdistancing spirituality. There seems to be a serious disconnect between our ability to look within ourselves,  and our preoccupation with the pleasures of the material world around us. Thanksgiving has become the signal of the beginning of the yearly shopping sprees.  It is true that this event is an important piece of the puzzle when you study the economic health of the nation.  Unfortunately this time of thanks has become more about the battle for I ME MINE and not a simple reflection on all of the amazing things we have in this country.


How to See Yourself As You Really Are

How to See Yourself As You Really Are (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Thanksgiving is a reminder that we all need to give back in meaningful ways.  We need to make an effort to live up to the ideals of the world’s great religions and the 1960’s cultural revolution.  We are indeed all brothers and sisters.  We are indeed all one family of man and the sooner we accept this reality the sooner the society in general will benefit, grow and prosper.


Here now the actual story of Thanksgiving as told by


In September 1620, a small ship called the Mayflower left Plymouth, England, carrying 102 passengers—an assortment of religious separatists seeking a new home where they could freely practice their faith and other individuals lured by the promise of prosperity and land ownership in the New World.  After a treacherous and uncomfortable crossing that lasted 66 days, they dropped anchor near the tip of Cape Cod, far north of their intended destination at the mouth of the Hudson River. One month later, the Mayflower crossed Massachusetts Bay, where the Pilgrims, as they are now commonly known, began the work of establishing a village at Plymouth.Throughout that first brutal winter, most of the colonists remained on board the ship, where they suffered from exposure, scurvy and outbreaks of contagious disease. Only half of the Mayflower’s original passengers and crew lived to see their first New England spring. In March, the remaining settlers moved ashore, where they received an astonishing visit from an Abenaki Indian who greeted them in English. Several days later, he returned with another Native American, Squanto, a member of the Pawtuxet tribe who had been kidnapped by an English sea captain and sold into slavery before escaping to London and returning to his homeland on an exploratory expedition. Squanto taught the Pilgrims, weakened by malnutrition and illness, how to cultivate corn, extract sap from maple trees, catch fish in the rivers and avoid poisonous plants. He also helped the settlers forge an alliance with the Wampanoag, a local tribe, which would endure for more than 50 years and tragically remains one of the sole examples of harmony between European colonists and Native Americans.


English: How Well The Corn Prospered. Squanto ...

English: How Well The Corn Prospered. Squanto or Tisquantum demonstrating corn he had fertilized by planting with fish. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


It is pretty amazing what these few ill prepared pioneers were able to do in concert with their Indian benefactors. Yes…Virginia…people can live and work together in a most harmonious and beneficial manner.  I think they call it “civilization”.  Happiness and peace can be achieved.  It has happened sporadically throughout history which seems to show that it can happen again…and hopefully on a more sustained basis.  America is certainly a civilized place in the year 2013 but there remains much work to do striving towards this lofty goal.


So as we set our sites on the Christmas Holiday season and the New Year celebration that follows let us give pause.  Let us consider those less fortunate that need our help. Let us realize that the material aspects of life should be kept in one place and the spiritual in another. Let us emphasize the spiritual so as to create giant waves of positive energy washing over us all.


Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving.




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18 Responses to Thanksgiving…what a concept!

  1. Dorothy Senft says:

    that was a beautiful piece now all we have to do is remember that Christmas is a very spiritual day and thank god for all we have

  2. rickblasko says:

    You have your history wrong once again Joe. George Washington was the one who proclaimed The third Thursday in November as Thanksgiving. It was his first proclamation as President and it was meant to give thanks to the freedoms and liberties that men died for to preserve for us.

  3. joeref says:

    Hey Rick…we’re both right. According to WIKIPEDIA (and several other places I checked on the web) Lincoln made it official but it is thought (not proven) that Washington may have made a proclamation to the effect. I quote…”Thanksgiving, or Thanksgiving Day, is a holiday celebrated in the United States on the fourth Thursday in November. It became an official Federal holiday in 1863, when, during the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national day of “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens”, to be celebrated on Thursday, November 26.[1] Also, there are reports that the original Thanksgiving proclamation, was signed by George Washington.

  4. joeref says:

    Be glad I’m even allowing you space to speak on this blog. I guess some of us talk the talk, and others walk the walk. I guess I believe in free speech.

  5. rickblasko says:

    By the way Joe, it is official. Washington was the one that gave the proclamation that created Thanksgiving as a national holiday. If you’re going to attempt to split hairs with me, atleast offer up truth as an option..

  6. rickblasko says:

    A uniquely American event takes place on the last Thursday of every November. We call it THANKSGIVING. The history, the traditions, the rituals have been passed down generation to generation for nearly 400 years…a mighty long time when you consider the relative youth of this country.
    I had no idea that 1863 was 400 years ago.

    • joeref says:

      It wasn’t an “official” national holiday until Lincoln made it so.

      • rickblasko says:

        Joe, I bet you’re a stand up individual. I hope your Jets do well in the Playoffs. Do me a favor, read a book every now and then. It will help, I promise.

      • joeref says:

        Is it necessary that you be so nasty and combative? You are one smug SOB. I am not calling you names and giving you a bunch of condescending BS. If I’m such a moron why do you waste your time coming to my blog? I think you might do better kissing Ted Cruz ass.

      • rickblasko says:

        I agree with you Joe. I’ll try to be more cordial. I just get sick and tired of smug, uniformed and in your face Liberals who have drank too much Kool-Aid and haven’t the slightest clue as to what they are talking about. Even when you prove them wrong they seem to find a way to continue to believe their own B.S.
        Next time you decide to embellish yourself in some post about American history, do everyone a favor and try to have the slightest clue as to what you are talking about. Remember, us “Crazy” Tea Party folk are always going to be right here to prove your own stupidity.
        “Go Jets”

  7. Sam I am says:

    What ever the date or the president, the reality is we trashed the native Americans an have left them with a few tracks of land and a casino here and there to fight over. It is a sad history.
    Sam I am

    • joeref says:

      Sad but true. The first Thanksgiving was one of the few times the Europeans and the Indians sat down together in the spirit of brotherhood. Our legacy of abuse with regards to native Americans is pretty horrifying.

      • rickblasko says:

        I don’t think you or I were alive when these atrocities occurred. I’m pretty sure that applies to slavery as well. Are you aware of the fact that the Indians weren’t the first people to inhabit this country? So who did they overthrow to occupy these territories. I’ll give you a hint, they came from Asia. I’ll give you another hint, most nationalities and people of ethnic diversities were once slaves of some sort to other people.
        What’s horrifying is that history has been re-written to produce a story of how horrible this country supposedly is. What’s even worse is that most people in this, the greatest country in the World, believe it blindly without ever questioning if the information they are running around with in their heads is actually true.
        My point is, “Stop sniveling Joe”, what you think is true is a load of, well, you know.

      • joeref says: one is blaming you for the atrocities of the past. My family was in Italy during those dark days but that doesn’t mean I dismiss or excuse or rationalize that horrible behaviour. Yes people have conquered people throughout history but this is 2013 and we profess to be evolved…we try to be civilized…we aspire to live our lives with compassion and truth and love and caring. Your statements show a lack of these qualities. Why don’t we just dismiss the Nazi holocaust by saying , “Well it happened all through history”? We don’t because we want future generations to grow up with awareness and compassion and we hope they will avoid the same horrible decisions in the future.

        America is an amazing country. May good things can only happen here. But many terrible things have happened here as well. You cannot live your life with eyes closed. We don’t want to repeat the same mistakes over and over.

  8. joeref says:

    hey Rick…the polarization of America is a tough thing to deal with. You bemoan smug liberals and I have had the experience of dealing with insane Tea party crackpots. We all have our small pieces of the universe. You haven’t mentioned anyone in particular but I’m sure on your list is Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton. On my side of the world view I cringe at people like Sarah Palin and Michele Bachman…neithet of which have a ckue about history or anything else for that matter. It can be a daunting task to be fair and even handed. I laugh at FOX FAUX NEWS and their “Fair and balanced” moniker. That is too hilarious to mention. I have to be completely honest with you. Most of the “Tea Party” people I have met and spoken to are living in 1950 with simplistic solutions to very complicated problems. I will allow that you are a thoughtful guy with good intentions but if you call me a moron one more time I will have to flush you. Deal?

    • rickblasko says:

      I was talking to my wife last night about our comments back and forth. What she said was pretty profound. She said, ” Rick, you know more than most people about a lot of things, but your messaging sucks. If you could learn how to use your mind to deal with people on their level, instead of yours, you would win the debate every time.” I agree with her. This is your blog, and name calling is petty. I do recall your definition of a Tea Party member, which I happen to be one of, and I disagree with that definition whole heartedly. With that being said, if you choose to believe that the sky is purple with green speckles, that is your position to have. So I would like to publicly apologize for the name calling, and will promise to do as I was taught and that is to think before I speak. “Go Jets”

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