BY WALT ALBRITTON
Like most Americans, our family came together to celebrate Thanksgiving. It seems a good thing that the fourth Thursday of every November is set aside by our nation as a holiday to give thanks for our blessings. It is indeed a healthy exercise of the freedom we enjoy.
The first Thanksgiving in America was held on a day in the fall of 1619. The early pilgrims celebrated a good harvest of their crops by inviting their Indian neighbors to share a meal together. Later, in 1623, Governor William Bradford designated a day for the colonists to thank God for their blessings.
President George Washington liked the idea of a day for thanksgiving. He chose February 19. Perhaps he favored February because it was the month of his birth.
In subsequent years a day of thanksgiving was observed by our countrymen on the third Thursday of November, but finally settling on the fourth Thursday.
Thanksgiving is delightful for many reasons. Most people do not have to work. Throw in Friday and you have a nice long weekend. Many people travel to spend Thanksgiving with their families so a lot of people in the transportation business must work. For them Thanksgiving is not a fun time for food, family and football.
Some of us can remember hectic times trying to get home for Thanksgiving and wishing we had stayed home. My wife and I once spent Thanksgiving Day in a New York airport. Pilots went on strike a few hours before we landed in LaGuardia on a trip from Rome. It is not a fond memory. There was no turkey and dressing or cranberry sauce that day.
This past Thursday we enjoyed a wonderful meal at the old home place where I was born. My parents built the home in 1930. Our youngest son Steve and his wife Amy bought and remodeled the home after my parents died. Sixty-seven family members and friends thanked Steve, Amy and their son Josh for superbly hosting the gathering once again. As the day wound down I recalled earlier Thanksgivings with my family. Those were not better but different.
Death explains one difference. Many who once were among us walk with us no more. I could close my eyes and see the faces of the deceased, like my own mother and father, the spouses of my siblings, many aunts and uncles as well as cousins, nieces and nephews.
With the passing earlier this year of my mother’s youngest sister, Katie Murphy, I am now the oldest living member of the Johnson family. Since that distinction has no inherent prestige, I can testify that what Jesus said about prophets is true as well about patriarchs.
Thursday the tables were laden with delicious food but some memorable dishes were missing. Nowhere to be found was my Mama’s special dessert – Ambrosia. Nor did anyone bring salted, roasted pecans. Mama always had those two items on the table at Thanksgiving. Despite the absence of those dishes. we all ate too much as expected.
Beautiful weather, delicious food, lots of children, family members and friends all made Thanksgiving Day wonderful again. William Bradford would have been proud of us. As he advised the pilgrims to do, we gathered together and gave thanks to almighty God for our blessings.