Our opinion: Centuries of tradition
It’s been nearly 400 years since the first “Thanksgiving,” plenty of time to pile on traditions that have very little, if anything, to do with what most historians believe was really the first “harvest festival” tradition to be transplanted in North America from its long European history.
That doesn’t make all of our added traditions unworthy or even illegitimate.
There may have been turkey present at that first feast, but the primary meat was probably venison, since it was recorded that the local tribe of native Americans arrived dragging five deer into the compound to make friends with these oddly dressed English characters.
There are some historians who question whether the celebration was even primarily a religious undertaking, since many of the assembled diners weren’t even Christian.
Nevertheless, over four centuries, Thanksgiving has become steeped in not just the frivolous – our national obsession with football, for instance, or the “pardoning” of a few turkeys by upper-echelon politicians – but also something far more basic and important.
It is also steeped in solemnity. It is at least supposed to be a time of thanks and reflection over the preceding 12 months, and not just the starting gun for the commercial orgy that used to be confined to the day after and the weekend following.
Most of us will at least say a prayer or at least acknowledge the love of family and friends before picking up a fork.
There should be time devoted to introspection. No matter how gloomy the previous months have been, there is always something to be thankful for.
After all, there will be plenty of time later to explain to your children or grandchildren that no, the Pilgrims did not have green bean casserole, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t at least try it.
So, to all of those who keep the traditions of Thanksgiving close to their hearts, we offer our wish that today brings you comfort, peace and happiness.