Thanksgiving is optimism in face of harsh times
The country’s economic downtown could make this year’s family Thanksgiving gatherings considerably more somber than those in the recent past. Many of us will start the holiday season concerned about the security of our jobs and with the knowledge our retirement funds are worth thousands of dollars less than they were just months ago.
With the uncertain future, it may seem counter intuitive to sit down to a feast or look forward to the annual commercial marathon that is our contemporary Christmas.
But it is worth remembering that those who celebrated what is seen as the country’s founding Thanksgiving faced the question of their own survival as they enjoyed a traditional harvest feast before a harsh New England winter. In the same vein, Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the first national Thanksgiving in 1863 when the country was “In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity . . . “
There is in those two historical examples considerable optimism that seems misplaced given the hardships still ahead. The survival of the New England settlement was still very much in question in 1623, and many bloody battles had to be won before Lincoln’s armies would claim victory in the Civil War
Despite the surety of further hard times, the Pilgrims and Lincoln gave thanks for the bounty provided as they readied for challenges ahead.
We would do well to emulate their confidence Thursday. We should indulge in a day of optimism as we reflect on the unequaled material circumstances we still enjoy.