On October 9, 2005, I wrote a column for my local newspaper suggesting Thanksgiving weekend should be more important in our lives than Christmas, Easter, Labour Day, family birthdays and wedding anniversaries. I wrote: “Thanksgiving should be all our grateful celebrations rolled into one.
A decade later I see no reason to change that thought.
For centuries Thanksgiving marked the festival of harvest, a celebration born when the first farmers on earth had their crops safely stored for winter. Ninety years ago and throughout my childhood to celebrate, schools, churches, chapels, display windows in stores, would be decorated with sheaves of wheat, field crops, baskets of fruit and fresh baked “cottage” loaves – unsliced. Choirs and congregations would lift their voices across the land to sing “Come, ye thankful people, come, raise the song of harvest home; all is safely gathered in ‘ere the winter’s storms begin.”
I understand some churches still maintain the old tradition but as the years rolled by Thanksgiving became more than a harvest prayer of gratitude for a good crop, although the farm roots remain with the turkey and all the trimmings, fresh baked bread and pumpkin pie. Today we offer a broader prayer, a thank you not just for the food and shelter most of us enjoy, but an expanded appreciation for the many other blessings harvested over the past year, and hopefully stored for remembering on any bleak days yet to come.
Ten years ago I wrote (“I wander into Thanksgiving 2005 after a year of flirtations with health care and the health care system, thankful that I have no serious problems – yet! Just a creaky 80 plus wheel, squeaking a little as it rattles through “the Golden Age”, and requiring a little high-tech fine-tuning now and then. The only change I would make today is that the 80-plus wheel continues to creak at 90-plus and I am genuinely thankful that it does.
I confess to daily grumbles about various aches and pains, about slower, shorter, strides and the need to gauge the length an afternoon walk by the number of benches available for brief recovery periods, but they are minor complaints. I am sincerely thankful that I can still go “walk about” even as “walk” comes closer to “shuffle” and walking stick or snowless ski-poles become welcome companions.
I’m thankful because I know I’m one of the fortunate ones. I may need to touch a handrail when walking up and down stairs; I may need something to push on when I stand after sitting in an easy chair; names sometimes take a minute or two to recall, but my problems are trivial when compared with others.
I admit to being be impressed by modern technology but while appreciative of the many benefits and comforts it brings my way, I am thankful I grew up before its explosion changed the world for ever, but not always for the better. As another old survivor once wrote I am thankful that I grew up in an age when a stud was something that held a collar to a shirt, when a joint was what we roasted for Sunday dinner, and going all the way meant riding the street car to the end of the line. I can remember when a micro-chip was a small slice of fried potato offered with deep-fried fish, sprinkled with salt and vinegar, ideally served in a newspaper wrapper and enjoyed, as all life’s pleasures should be, with sincere Thanksgiving