Thanksgiving in a time of crisis

Stephen W. Browne

Thanksgiving is upon us again, this year in somewhat strained circumstances.

Some state governors have issued edicts defining exactly how many people you can have for dinner, and even what degrees relationship are permissible.

Reactions range from loud defiance to self-righteous scorn.

'You'll get my turkey and dressing when you pry my cold dead hands off it!'

'If you don't isolate and wear a mask you are murdering your neighbors!'

Doesn't matter, they will be impossible to enforce. Some idiots may try and bust some overlarge gathering of people who will then become martyrs and dine out on the story of how they were persecuted for their beliefs for years afterwards.

I do not wish to appear impatient with my fellow-citizens. I know how many are facing financial ruin because of the lockdowns. But the fact is, we're such homebodies we've hardly noticed.

I work from home and my daughter gets her school work dropped off twice a week and does it at home. We like each other's company and we have a dog who's ecstatic her family is home all the time.

I did have to attend a training conducted under social distancing rules with masks required, but only for a few days. It's inconvenient, especially when it's cold outside and you wear glasses. And

I did have to slip the mask down under my nose because I was experiencing headaches from rebreathing my own exhalations. But nothing like what people I know are experiencing.

So while I do not wish to dismiss anyone's concerns, it might be helpful to remember that Thanksgiving was instituted in times of far greater troubles than we are experiencing.

The holiday is based on ancient harvest festivals, where people celebrated with joy and relief that they'd once again succeeded in producing enough surplus to live on until the next harvest.

The semi-legendary first Thanksgiving in the New World was celebrated at Plymouth colony in 1621 after half the colony had died over the winter.

The first national celebration was proclaimed by George Washington, that November 26, 1789, 'as a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favours of Almighty God”

That was the year the government under the Articles of Confederation was formally dissolved and a new government created by the Constitution. A 'bold and doubtful experiment' in Thomas Jefferson's description which turned out far better than many expected.

In 1863 Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday in November as a day of thanksgiving for Union victories in the midst of that terrible war.

The official date of Thanksgiving was fixed at its present date when Franklin Roosevelt signed a joint resolution of congress on December 26, 1941, just 19 days after the attack on Pearl Harbor led to America's entry into World War II.

The next three Thanksgivings were celebrated in wartime when almost every family was touched in some way by tragedy.

I do realize how irritating it is when suffering hard times to have someone tell you it's not so bad, that other people have had it worse, but the fact is " it has been worse.

We are living in uncertain times with no clear end in sight. Some fear this is the beginning of the end of America as we know it. But we are not lesser men than our ancestors, we can and will get through this.