Now that Labour Day is over, I am looking ahead to Thanksgiving.
As 2020 has been such a difficult year for so many people, we all have to scramble to think of things we can really be thankful for. But I still believe there are many.
But first a little Thanksgiving history because, as you fellow blog followers know, history is my "thing."
The story of the American Thanksgiving dates back to the 1620s following the arrival of the Mayflower at Plymouth Rock and is now celebrated in November every year.
But, in Canada the first recorded Thanksgiving Day did not occur until 1710 at Port Royal, Nova Scotia, and today is celebrated annually in October. This year it happens this coming weekend.
In 1760, Halifax ordered a day of thanksgiving to mark the victory of General Jeffery Amherst’s troops at Montreal. After that, Thanksgiving Days were usually held at different times on different days, and often simply marked a military victory or the birth of a royal child. Nova Scotia’s Scottish settlers particularly liked the religious aspect of Thanksgiving. But it was in Halifax in 1762 that the first Thanksgiving actually gave thanks for a bountiful harvest.
Thanksgiving Day did not become a national event until much later—in 1879. And after the First World War, Thanksgiving was merged with Armistice Day for a while. In 1931, they were made into two separate holidays again, and the second Monday of October was officially proclaimed Thanksgiving Day. Today, most of us automatically connect a bountiful harvest with our Thanksgiving celebrations, Canada’s being a little earlier (in October) than America’s (in November.)
We also think of Thanksgiving as a time to pause and count our blessings. A few years ago, I wrote an article about Thanksgiving listing the many things about which I personally was very thankful. Seemingly trivial things at the time such as having a warm house with a roof that didn’t leak; being healthy and not living in a Third World country where my family might slowly be starving to death. I was also thankful to be living in a free country where I can vote, and especially in British Columbia where the climate is mild and manageable and the scenery is beautiful. I was even thankful that I wasn’t a turkey!
But 2020 has changed us all. COVID-19 has made us look at the world very differently, and my list of things about which to be thankful has grown considerably because I've had to dig deeper into my well of blessings.
Right now I am very thankful to be healthy and COVID-free and all my family members are safe. For so many others around the world it is a very different scenario. Although I miss seeing family members and friends, I am thankful for face time, emails and telephone calls. I am thankful that I don't have a loved one in a senior's home where I cannot visit them especially if they are dying. I am especially thankful I live north of the North American border right now. I am thankful that I don't NEED to travel anywhere at the moment. I'm thankful for my sundeck, a comfortable chair, a little comfort food to enjoy and a safe place to walk. I'm even thankful for masks. And I'm thankful for the fact that I can look forward to hugging everyone again one day.
So perhaps it is a good time to pause and look back over history. Older readers will always remember exactly where they were or what they were doing when war was declared in 1939, or when the events of Pearl Harbour took place in 1941.
My generation has those same vivid memories concerning the assassinations of President Kennedy, Martin Luther King, and Robert Kennedy, and the tragic and shocking deaths of Princess Diana and John Lennon. We wondered then if the world would ever again be normal or safe. More recently there was that infamous day on September 11th, 2001, when for a few hours the world went mad and we were all shaken to the core out of complacency into horror and fear. The freedom and safety our ancestors had fought for in past wars was temporarily taken from us in the cruelest of ways.
And today we face forest fires, floods, tornadoes, hurricanes and now a world pandemic second to none. But, we are much more aware of the effects of global warming than we once were. We realize through education and listening to the scientists that we must all stand up and do something before our beautiful world is totally destroyed.
So perhaps this Thanksgiving both in Canada and America it is a time to remember all that is good in the world. History tell us that we have faced these horrible challenges before and overcome them. The evil that was Hitler was finally obliterated in the 1940s. We rallied again after those assassinations in the 1960s, and life continued. Perhaps life was never quite the same and we inevitably paid the ultimate price, but we came through and hopefully learned something. Perhaps we can once more.
As Thanksgiving draws near, we should remember the many blessings we still have and try to think positively about the future we want to create, because for every cloud there is always a silver lining.
A Happy and Safe Thanksgiving to you all as we celebrate sensibly with our loved ones!