1621, Massachusetts, sometime between September 21 and November 11, after the pilgrims' first successful harvest, a conversation may have gone like this.....
"My favorite!! I hope we have enough. Chief Massasoit said to expect nearly one hundred people from his Wampanaog tribe."
Martha points to much venison and fowl hanging over fires from long sticks. "There will be enough."
"I don't, know, Martha. Squanto and his Pawtuxet friends may stop by too."
She raises the lids off pots of boiled pumpkin and berries and fish. "There's enough William."
Governor Bradford tastes the berries, nods his approval. "My dear, you just may have started a tradition."
Massasoit smoking a peace pipe with Governor John Carver in Plymouth, 1621
Cyrus Edwin Dallin's sculpture of Massasoit, on Cole's Hill, overlooking the site of Plymouth Rock
I would have happily, ever so happily, smoked a peace pipe with this guy!
Two men sitting on the library steps reading the newspaper...
"I sure would liked to have heard President Washington read this proclamation. Never been one like it from the U.S. government."
"Read it to me, Lionel. You know I'm not as good as you at making out words."
Lionel clears his throat: 'Both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.'
"That sure is a mouthful, Lionel."
"A whole day, you say. When's that going to happen?"
Lionel scans the second paragraph. "Next month, Thursday, the 26th."
"You think we'll get the day off work?"
In 1817, New York became the first of several states to officially adopt an annual Thanksgiving holiday
President Abraham Lincoln meets with Mrs. Sarah Josepha Hale, magazine editor and prolific writer, (among countless other things, of the nursery rhyme “Mary Had a Little Lamb”)
(please note, this is a fictional conversation based on factual events....)
The President: "The fact that you launched a campaign over 30 years ago to establish Thanksgiving as a national holiday is highly impressive, Mrs. Hale." He thumbs through a thick collection of papers. "Editorials, letters to governors, senators, and my political predecessors." He smiles. "You, Mrs. Hale, are a very determined woman."
"Yes, Mr. President, I certainly am that. And have I persuaded you to consider proclaiming a national day of thanksgiving and praise?"
Another broad smile from the 16th president of the United States. "Why, yes ma'am, you have. How does the last Thursday in November for this nation's first Thanksgiving Day sound to you?"
"I could not have asked for more, sir."
And so at that height of the Civil War, President Lincoln entreats all Americans to recognize “.....a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens....commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife” and to “heal the wounds of the nation.”
To spur retail sales during the Great Depression, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, 32nd president of the U.S., moves the holiday up a week and in 1941 signs a bill making Thanksgiving Day the fourth Thursday in November.
for the 1941 Atlantic Charter meeting.
A number of U.S. governors also perform the annual turkey pardoning ritual.
Ceremonies offering prayers of thanks are practiced globally, most of them originating from ancient harvest celebrations. No matter what you and your family's traditions are on this day, being thankful is what it's all about.
What Thanksgiving Day family traditions are your favorite? To those of you who live outside the USA, do you have a similar tradition of a day of thanks?