The holidays are coming and it is a time of celebration, reflection and thankfulness. How many of you know the history of our Thanksgiving holiday? Americans have kept the tradition of Thanksgiving going from the year 1621 to present. Gratitude is a popular word for the holidays and there are several ways to show it with strangers, friends and even your associates. We hope you enjoy this article and you find it prompts you to consider your own definition of gratitude and how you show it in your life.
History of Thanksgiving.
In 1621 the Plymouth England colonists and the Wampanog Indians shared what is known as the first Thanksgiving. The story to this union goes back to the year prior; 1620, when 102 colonists arrived on the Mayflower. Due to scurvy and other diseases, many of those that traveled on the Mayflower died and those that survived continued to become ill through the bitter winter until March in the new land. They were greeted by an Abenaki Indian who spoke English accompanied by one named “Squanto” from the Pawtuxet tribe. These bilingual native Americans taught the colonists how to grow a multitude of crops such as corn in their new homeland. In November 1621, Governor William Bradford invited some of the Wampanog members to a three-day feast to celebrate their first successful harvest. That day, an alliance was formed to last a minimum of fifty years between the two groups. (History.com Editors, 2019).
Although we cannot know for certain what food was prepared that first Thanksgiving day, we can assume corn, deer and possibly lobster was on the menu since that was plentiful. Let’s fast forward to 1789 when George Washington held the first proclamation by the national government and acknowledged gratitude when the war ended and the U.S. Constitution was ratified. After this, Thanksgiving was held on different days throughout the year until Abraham Lincoln granted Sarah Josepha Hale request (persistence paid off after 36 years requesting the holiday to be formally recognized) to make it an annual holiday in 1863. While the religious significance of Thanksgiving has diminished since its birth, the holiday tradition of sharing a feast, giving thanks and a time of reflection still reigns as a significant historical snapshot of our country’s rich heritage. (History.com Editors, 2019)
Gratitude, How Does It Show Up In Your Life?
So let’s start with the basics. What is gratitude? According to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, it is the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.
Harvard University the definition is for one “to be thankful or feeling positive emotions from past memories, not taking things for granted in the present and keeping optimistic for the future”. (In Praise of Gratitude, 2019).
Benedictine monk, Br. David Steindl-Rast, suggests that two qualities belong in our basic definition of gratitude. The first is appreciation: You recognize that something is valuable to you, which has nothing to do with its monetary worth. The second quality Br. David mentions is that gratitude is gratis: freely given to you.
Gratefulness is the key to a happy life that we hold in our hands, because if we are not grateful, then no matter how much we have we will not be happy — because we will always want to have something else or something more.
In our own backyard here in central Florida we went to the streets and asked people what comes to mind when they hear the word gratitude.
Angeley Wenner, founder of One Hope International says that when thinking of gratitude, “I think of all my family and friends that have supported, loved and pushed me to be better”. One Hope International serves a meal every third Tuesday at Rescue Outreach. For November they will be offering turkey dinners.
Erin Luckeydoo, retiree from Seminole County Sheriff’s Office explains that gratitude is also an action. For example, giving up your seat to another even if that means there’s no other chair or holding your hand across your heart to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. She goes on saying that it is also shaking the hand of those who served in the military and thanking them for their service. Growing up, E