Off The Press
November 24, 2009
By Bob Taylor
Before the first slice of turkey has been lifted off the platter, or the first scoop of mashed potatoes has plopped on a plate, our family practices a Thanksgiving tradition of giving thanks. Each member at the table tells why they are thankful this year.
I’m sure this is a tradition that families across the nation, and in the local community, also perform each year. The tradition of giving thanks goes all the way back to Pilgrims’ days. I can imagine Gov. William Bradford, so thankful that his Plymouth Colony had survived the harsh winter of 1621, kneeling and saying something like, “Almighty, we’re thankful for our friends the Wampanoags for providing the deer and lobster for this meal, otherwise, it would have been TV dinners again.”
Well, the part about TV dinners isn’t true, but Bradford and his people definitely were appreciative of the local Native American tribe, who provided the majority of the cuisine for that feast. The feast, by the way, lasted three days. They must have had a lot of leftovers.When President George Washington declared Thanksgiving a holiday in 1789, he certainly had to be thankful after first leading the Colonial army to victory, and then, as president, leading the new nation during its fledgling days. Working with Congress back then had to be a headache for George, just as it has been for modern day presidents. The economy and defense were big issues then, too.
President Abraham Lincoln was so thankful of Union victories at Gettysburg and Vicksburg in 1863, that he proclaimed Thanksgiving a national holiday. Lincoln proclaimed the day be observed on the last Thursday of November.
It was a big year for Lincoln and proclamations. He abolished slavery with the Emancipation Proclamation in January that year, made Thanksgiving a holiday in October and delivered the Gettysburg Address in November. It seems like everyone got emancipated that year except the turkey. By the way, there is no historical proof that the Lincolns named their Thanksgiving turkey Jefferson Davis.
However, I can imagine little Tad Lincoln at the table saying something like, “I’m thankful for Dad and Mom, and generals Ulysses S. Grant, William T. Sherman and George Meade.”
Perhaps more meaningful is this part from Lincoln’s Thanksgiving declaration “…implore the interposition of the Almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.” Peace, harmony and tranquility, aren’t these things this nation still strives for? These things will be mentioned during our round of thanks at the dinner table.
Family members will give thanks for a variety of things. Topics will range from being thankful for the efforts of our military overseas and special blessings for the troops, being thankful for whatever good fortune they have attained during the past year, special blessings for our government leaders, and we’re always thankful for the food.
In past years, when it was my turn, I usually closed with something trite like, “and I’m thankful the Mariners didn’t finish last.” I couldn’t use it in 2008, but I can this year because the Mariners had such a miracle season.
Actually, there is much that I am thankful for this year. I am thankful that I’ve managed to have the strength to continue battling cancer, thankful for a loving family, especially my wife Pauline, who has been my caregiver during this siege, and my son David, thankful for all the friends, relatives and co-workers who continue to pray for my recovery, thankful for the marvelous high school sports teams in the area, and during this economic crisis in our country, I am very thankful to have a job and to be working for an understanding editor and publisher. And like Bradford, I am thankful for the Almighty’s many blessings.
To everyone, Happy Thanksgiving!
Bob Taylor: 392-6434, ext. 236, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.