It is difficult to picture anyone who does not love the Thanksgiving holiday.

Since 1621 when the Plymouth Colonists and Wampanoag Native Americans shared an autumn harvest feast, we have celebrated this special day.

In November of that year, after the Pilgrims’ first corn harvest proved successful, Governor William Bradford organized a celebratory feast and invited a group of the colony’s allies who were Native Americans.

The festival lasted three days that first year.

It is certainly a good thing we dropped that three-day celebration thing. I can only imagine how difficult it would be to try and recover from three days of eating all the rich food we prepare these days. Sometimes, the cleanup takes that long from just one day of celebration.

The early celebrations were full of religious ceremonies as the Colonists were staunch, church-going Americans.

President Abraham Lincoln would later proclaim a national Thanksgiving Day be held each November.

Sadly, much of the original religious significance from the first Thanksgiving has been lost. Today’s celebrations are mainly about sharing a big meal at grandma’s house and hanging out with relatives that we have not seen since last Thanksgiving.

Televised Thanksgiving parades, which are viewed by millions, were certainly not part of that original feast.

Since 1982, Thanksgiving has been a bittersweet time for me. Daddy passed away on the Monday before Thanksgiving that year. Nothing has been the same since.

Now that Mama and my two sisters have also died, our family gatherings are smaller and not quite as joyful as they once were. Even though we are so glad to be together, there is sadness about the missing pieces of our family unit.

Because we were taught by our parents to value family time, my brother and I have tried to continue the tradition of celebrating together.

As we celebrate this Thanksgiving holiday, it is important to remember that family memories are a treasure and being thankful for the time God gave us with them helps with the pain.

Many in our community will be feeling that same loss this year because the pandemic has taken their loved ones.

The last two years have been a nightmare for the entire world population. The pandemic, that has taken the lives of millions of our fellow men and women, has wreaked havoc in its path.

But still there is room for thankfulness.

This year, we should be thankful for the brilliant and dedicated scientists who worked overtime to develop a vaccine which will help prevent loss of life from the deadly virus.

While it may not seem like much to some, others will rely on it to help keep them from being infected. In fact, we currently have over 193 million fully vaccinated people in this country. That is 58.5 percent of our population.

On our list of people whom we owe gratitude this year are the brave men and women in the healthcare field. They have displayed unwavering care and concern for those who have been hospitalized with the deadly virus. These professionals showed up and took great care of all patients.

They did this with little regard for themselves but fulfilled the oath they took to help and not harm. And for them we are thankful.

We also owe a big debt of gratitude to our schoolteachers and administrators. They have done their best to ensure our children’s safety with protocols and standards. The ability to maintain consistency in learning was such a blessing as our children struggled with all the changes to their education experience. Teachers who showed such bravery by not letting them down are heroes in my book. While teachers in other states staged walkouts and protests, our hard-working men and women put our children’s education first. And for them we are thankful.

Another group of folks that should not be forgotten are the dedicated pastors, preachers, priests and rabbis who kept the faith and continually administered to their flocks during the most difficult of times. They could have put themselves first and shirked their duties, but they did not.  And for those who helped us keep our faith, we are so very thankful.

I recently attended a Veteran’s Day program at my daughter’s school.  I am always moved at these events because it is a reminder of the love our serving men and women have for their country. Without their sacrifice, there would be no freedom to celebrate this special day. We owe them our thanks and gratitude.

Many have sacrificed much so our country can be the greatest place on earth. We can never repay that debt.

My wish for everyone this Thanksgiving is that you find your reason to be grateful and seek God with a thankful heart.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Anita McGill is a former publisher of The Sentinel. She can be reached by email at anitamcgill99@gmail.com.

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