It seems like Thanksgiving gets pushed aside these days.
I’ve been watching people post Christmas items on social media and I can’t tell you how many pictures of their homes are already decorated complete with a tree.
For someone like me, who was born on a Thanksgiving Day, it’s downright disturbing.
Don’t get me wrong. I love Christmas. But, I’m not sure it makes sense to completely discount one of the greatest holidays just because the next big thing is around the corner.
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Maybe we need a reminder of how Thanksgiving got started.
I’m sure we all remember studying in elementary school about that first Thanksgiving, but I’d be surprised if anyone remembers much of the story unless they happen to be a teacher.
It seems this holiday has become an excuse to gather the family and stuff ourselves with turkey, dressing, cranberry sauce and the usual fare with little reflection into its true meaning.
Remember the real Thanksgiving story is one that’s more about survival than gorging on candied yams and napping during a Dallas Cowboys or Detroit Lions football game.
If you could go to Plymouth, Mass., in 1621, you’d find that most of the things we associate with our Thanksgivings weren’t a part of that first celebration.
In 1621, those candied yams and football that have become integral parts of today’s traditional celebration hadn’t been introduced to the New England area.
The meal for the settlers at that time included venison, goose, duck and, of course, a wild turkey or two. It’s quite likely that some fish played a major role in the meal as well.
Corn of every color was surely used, but the closest thing you would have found to a dessert would have been a handful of nuts and berries.
Sugar hadn’t made an appearance in the New World at that time so you’d have completely missed out on lemon meringue pie.
No one really knows a whole lot about that first Thanksgiving. It is said the pilgrims and Indians came together to celebrate but I have a hard time picturing it.
There’s something about two civilizations that don’t speak the same language or share the same customs that just doesn’t add up when I try to imagine them sharing a meal.
What do you reckon they used as a conversation starter? It’s not like Mrs. Smith could compliment the great chief’s daughter on the beautiful eagle feather she wore in her hair and imagine the look on those Indians’ faces when the settlers pulled out forks and knives.
It’s a wonder that someone wasn’t killed right then because, surely, the natives thought they were weapons.
No matter how that inaugural event played out, it has transformed from one in which people pause to give thanks for a bountiful harvest, a successful hunt, the relationships in their lives and simply surviving, to one that is largely taken for granted.
As you find yourself sitting at that table filled with family and friends, take a second to reflect on those relationships and all that has happened in your life since you last gathered around this feast.
I can assure you that, even within the darkest moments of that time, there’s something there to be appreciative of.
Personally, 2014 has been a bit of an adventure. It has been the first full year without my dad and a number of other family members and good friends who died in 2013.
It feels almost as if half of my family was wiped out in the span of a few months. This year has been an adjustment, but I’m still here and still plugging along.
Not one day passes that they aren’t on my mind and, for that, I’m thankful. We all know that memories fade in time, but inside my head the visions are as crystal clear as if they were still with us. I hate to think of a time when that won’t be true.
I’ve reconnected with a lot of people this year as well. I have some great friends in Georgia who I went almost 20 years without seeing until this spring when we got together for a reunion.
All too often, we let life get in the way of our relationships with those who aren’t close and I’m thankful we finally got together before any more time passed.
The downside of such gatherings is they all involve stories from the distant past that will quickly remind you of how old you are and how much water has passed under the bridge. Of course, there’s something to be thankful for there as well.
After all that time, we’re still around to tell the tales and there was a time when I wasn’t sure that would be the case for me.
I could go on with reasons to be thankful, but the point that I’m trying to make is: No matter what your year has been like, I’m sure that if you’ll take a few seconds of this special day to give it some thought you’ll come up with quite a few reasons for being thankful.
And it’s worth holding off on hanging the Christmas wreath for a few days to show your gratitude for all of the blessings you’ve received.
Brad Harvey is a freelance writer in Clover. Visit his website at www.bradharveyoutdoors.com or follow on Twitter @BHarveyOutdoors.