Every year, a day or so before Thanksgiving, I set aside time from cooking and cleaning to write a post, and every year the topic reflects thankfulness. This year my mind has been torn between wanting to respond to several disturbing items in the news and wanting to write about being thankful. The allegations of sexual assault against Bill Cosby, the alleged, brutal gang rape of a young girl at the University of Virginia, and the violent response to the Grand Jury decision not to indict Officer Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri are a few of the issues clouding my mind and distracting me from writing about giving thanks.
Today I started thinking about the first Thanksgiving. Was it all pleasantries and good will? Or was there another side to the story, that we don’t discuss around the Thanksgiving table? I did some investigating and found a few interesting facts. There are varying reports on where and when the first Thanksgiving celebration occurred. Several individual colonies and states chose their own days to celebrate. An official day was the result of the efforts of someone I never heard of, Sarah Josepha Hale. It was she, an editor and author, who waged a 36 year campaign to have Thanksgiving declared a national holiday. In 1863 President Lincoln granted her wish, writing a proclamation declaring the final Thursday in November as Thanksgiving Day.
But while most of us are enjoying the blessings of food, family and friends another event is taking place on that same day. Known as the National Day of Mourning the United American Indians of New England meet at Cole’s Hill in Plymouth, Massachusetts in protest. Their purpose is to expose a darker, destructive side of Thanksgiving, honoring the Native American ancestors who died as a result of the European invasion in America.
Somehow reading these facts brought clarity to my conflicted mind. There was violence a midst the first Thanksgiving celebrations as there is violence today. As sad as the death of Native Americans was, and as sad I find the stories in the news today, the message that needs to be shared is: Be Thankful. It does not diminish my feelings for the victims of assault, rape and violence. Reflecting on what I’m thankful for gives me hope. Hope that the good in our lives will prevail and inspire us to be ambassadors of non-violence.
My blessings are abundant this year. Our daughter’s wedding and the addition of a son-in-law who we adore; the publication of my book, Say It Out Loud and the incredible response of family, friends and strangers; the connections I’ve made since the book launch and opportunities to help others as they say it out loud; the feeling of peace that I experience each day believing that I am fulfilling my purpose; and always the blessing of all those I love and know love me.
BE A MIRROR FOR THE LIGHT RATHER THAN A SPONGE FOR THE DARKNESS
Wishing you happiness as you reflect all you are thankful for. Roberta