Giving thanks for nature, our world

Musings from the Hill

One or two cold rainy days early in September and I remember the years when it felt like everyday was that way. “There’s nothing to do” I’m sure, as a youngster, I said that hundreds of times – as did my daughters when summer weather turned nasty and they were forced to spend time indoors. Funny. “Now that you have some time, why don’t you pick up your room” never seemed an acceptable suggestion from Mom.

This summer was exceptionally dry and very, very hot. Farmers and gardeners complained. I know I ultimately gave up on watering and so nothing but weeds fills my garden in 2020. Yet, from all reports, produce grown in profusion and flowers certainly have yielded an abundance in ways I can’t recall. My Rose of Sharon, never happy to share blooms with me, was absolutely popping at the seams (as it were) and my roses are proving what a gorgeous plant they can be. And what can I says about the pears? So many! But picking has become more of a chore as I age.

It’s dollar store stuff but hanging in my garage where I see it more than I may inside, I have a plaque which reads “There is so much to be thankful for.” I don’t ever forget.

I do have so very much to be grateful for – though an extra reminder can never hurt.

Only Thanksgiving is far more than simply saying “Thank you.”

Technically the Pilgrims’ celebration was a harvest feast with seafood and venison, something new to the colonists, occupying the most important places on the table. The Indians killed five deer. Fowl including turkeys were also certainly on the menu. It was years later, however, before potatoes appeared.

Wouldn’t it be marvelous if we each took a tiny bit of time now to thank a few special people who have added to our lives? I think we do that far too seldom.

Did you know that it was George Washington whose personal philanthropy got the ball rolling? In honor of America’s first official Thanksgiving as a nation, he publicly gave $25 to help the poor and encouraged his fellow citizens to be as generous. In 1789, his first presidential proclamation urged gratitude “for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his providence, which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war – and for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed.”

It was Lincoln, however, who designated it a day of thanksgiving, naming the last Thursday of November as the holiday. It wasn’t until 1941 that Congress declared the day a national holiday to fall on the fourth Thursday in November.

The great (if you say so; I’d never heard of her) 19th century promoter of the holiday, Sarah Josepha Hale, wrote in 1857, “Such social rejoicings tend greatly to expand the generous feelings of our nature, and strengthen the bond of union that finds us brothers and sisters in that true sympathy of American patriotism.”

Patriotism and, yes, of course football. You might be interested to learn that connection stretches all the way back to 1873 when Princeton and Yale played in what became a holiday tradition, according to columnist Rich Lowry. But Wikipedia dates the first game on Thanksgiving Day of 1869, just less than two weeks after Rutgers defeated Princeton is what is widely recognized as the first intercollegiate football game in the United States. I don’t know who played and nobody wants to talk about who won.

It’s hardly a secret that more and more of us have grown aware of the tremendous need for charity. Many of the businesses forced to close by Covid may never reopen.

Far too many people are unemployed or living on much less than they anticipated last year at this time. Are you one of the families struggling to juggle childcare, home-schooling, and working from home? Certainly, if not you, you do know some in that situation. Too many others lack even a safe roof over their heads. Uncertainly wreaks havoc among so many, even in our close communities.

The papers refuse to let us forget – and I commend them for inundating us with facts we’d be happier not having to face: Drug use. Homelessness. Lack of enough money to squeeze out even the necessaries. One can grow pretty disillusioned about the grand old US of A.

I’m hoping good times are coming soon.

Susan Crossett has lived in Arkwright for more than 20 years. A lifetime of writing led to these columns as well as two novels. Information on all the Musings, her books and the author may be found at Susancrossett.com.


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