We always knew it was turkey time back in sixth grade when we took a look at a very old painting of Pilgrims and Native Americans at a Thanksgiving feast, which hung all year long in the cloakroom. Why it was there I cannot relate, but kids seemed to notice it just before we went off for the holiday.
Today, gatherings for those fortunate enough to have family and means arouses the same feelings as it did with the early settlers, I presume. Any day you are off the treadmill, when there is a variety of wonderfully smelling food, when kids are running about in innocence and mayhem, when there are many under one roof, you appreciate -- are thankful for -- what you have.
Thanksgivings this year in our still bountiful nation, a country I remain thankful for, cost more if you have the money, have fewer goodies on too many tables and offer less time to enjoy since so many are worried about keeping jobs or getting them, the health of their pensions and the fitness of their health care.
Now, this is not entirely new -- we have been in distress many times in America’s history. Think of the tough life early settlers had the days before the first Thanksgiving and the days after; during the Revolutionary War, the Civil War; on farms when the crops were wiped out for one reason or another; in immigrant sections of our cities where sweatshops and dangerous tenement conditions prevailed; during the Great Depression and two world wars.
Yet in all that, there was always someone offering the optimistic view, such as Norman Rockwell in his famous Saturday Evening Post cover, “Home for Thanksgiving” (November 24, 1945), which shows a safely returned soldier peeling potatoes with his mom. Our Thanksgivings are the stuff of legends, family and nation, and of genuine gratefulness and of hope.
Where America is headed in these perilous times, so close to another precipice, is not easily predictable, but I will tell you one thing: If we could round up most of our “leaders,” if we could put the money managers with them, if we could squeeze in the greedy and make them all sit out this Thanksgiving, the rest of us, in good and poor circumstances in November 2011 might just have a thankful holiday, thankful for the goodness that is essential America; thankful for the things that matter most, like family and friends; thankful that we remain breathing. In that there is the same hope of manifest destiny and new frontier that lie before the first Pilgrims.