As I read all the ‘Happy Thanksgiving’ messages we receive, I wonder if we are missing the point. Virtually all of them have a reference to eating, gaining weight, or football. Sure, there is a nod to “being thankful”, but it seems almost an afterthought.
The story of the first thanksgiving when the Indians and the Pilgrims got together to thank their respective Gods for the bounty they had received is probably apocryphal but its meaning transcends whatever errors and omissions it has taken on over the hundreds of years since those fall days in the early 1600s.
Here we have two opposing forces, the locals on one hand and those who are moving into their land on another. There is little doubt that there had to be some underlying concerns and mistrust on both sides. However they were able to overcome all that and sit down and give thanks.
We seem to think we have “evolved” from that rather tribal time when everything we did came from our own personal work. We were farmers, we worked the land, raised the food, and God willing, were able to have enough not only for our own survival but also to share with others. I wonder just how much evolution has taken place, and if it has, if it was in the right direction.
Those Puritans had a work ethic that transcends their very lives. They got up in the morning and went to work. They worked while the sun was up, and every day, except Sunday, when they worshiped. They would look askance at our ‘9 to 5’ philosophy and wonder just where they went wrong.
Our lives are so easy, compared to theirs. We ‘hunt’ at Costco, we ‘farm’ at Whole Foods, we are “entertained’ on our smartphones and televisions. If we get sick, we run the ER and the chances are very great that we will be healed. In the days of the Pilgrims, the smallest scratch could be a death sentence. Our biggest panic is the breakdown of the ‘supply chain’ that might possibly disrupt our Christmas spending.
My challenge to you this Thanksgiving is to think about that first time folks sat down at a dinner table and gave thanks. Think about how difficult and different their live were. And then give thanks to your deity that you don’t have to live surrounded with the difficulties they did. Sometimes I wonder if our lives are truly better.