It was 399 years ago that the Pilgrims held the first Thanksgiving at the Plymouth Plantation. The purpose was to celebrate the colony’s first successful harvest. Over the years it became a tradition of families and friends coming together to enjoy a bounty of food, catch a movie, watch the Macy’s parade and/or the Cowboys play. Even during the years when this country was suffering from wars, depressions and assassinations, Thanksgiving was a respite from the anxieties of the day.
This year will be no different in many ways. Families and friends will still get together, only in many cases it will be via the Internet. The bounty of food may be less than years past and instead of a crowd around the dinner table, it will be akin to a handful dining outdoors. Instead of giant balloon creatures and bands marching through the crowded streets of New York, they’ll be making an abbreviated trek around the Herald Square area without the throngs of people. AT&T Stadium will still host the annual Cowboys game, but the stadium won’t be overflowing.
Despite this year’s downsizing and challenges, the purpose of Thanksgiving remains the same — to take a day to consider what blessings still exist. For instance, pharmaceutical companies have amazed themselves in developing potential vaccines to battle COVID-19. Healthcare workers are tirelessly working on the frontlines 24/7 to save lives. Generous strangers and friends are enabling nonprofits to provide for those in need. Grocery stores and retailers have adjusted their structure to meet the needs of the day. Children are showing their resilience by adapting to the new-world order of education.
So, while this year’s Thanksgiving may be a historically different from others, the purpose is still the same — to take the time to be grateful.