“Happy Thanksgiving!” We all say it. And we all like to have a day off to spend with friends and family, enjoying a big turkey dinner and pumpkin pie with all the trimmings. But what is behind all of this?
According to Chat GPT, the most widely recognized origin of the Thanksgiving celebration dates back to 1621 when a group of English Pilgrims who had settled in Plymouth, Massachusetts, celebrated their first successful harvest. They invited the Wampanoag Native Americans to join them in a feast that lasted several days. This event is often considered the “First Thanksgiving.”
Thanksgiving celebrations occurred sporadically in the following years, with various states and colonies observing their own days of thanksgiving. These were often religious in nature.
In 1863 President Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation during the American Civil War, declaring the last Thursday in November as “a national day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens.” This established a precedent for Thanksgiving as a national holiday.
Today, Thanksgiving is celebrated as a secular holiday by people of various backgrounds and beliefs in many countries. Many families take the opportunity to gather and express gratitude for their blessings.
This last comment is the key to understanding Thanksgiving. Generally speaking we here in North America are truly blessed with many freedoms, a high standard of living, and relative safety from the threats of lawlessness, war and terrorism which exist in many parts of the world.
Among the 12 categories of freedoms enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, we have:
- Democratic Rights – the right to participate in the democratic process
- Freedom of Religion/faith – the right to practice our religion and beliefs freely
- Freedom of Self expression – freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and freedom of artistic expression
- Freedom of Self actualization – including where we live (mobility), what we do (choice of work), and with whom we do it (association and assembly)
- Right to Life, Liberty, and Security
So, if you really do appreciate your freedoms and your life style, even if you have not had a “successful harvest” this year, be sure to really celebrate Thanksgiving, and express your gratitude in a meaningful way for all of your blessings.
Here are some suggestions of the people in your life whom you may take for granted, and who would appreciate being appreciated:
- Your friends and family who have stood by you and put up with your stresses and (at times) grumpiness this past year
- Your staff who have helped you and the company get through the past 12 months of economic uncertainty
- The Barista who made your favorite gluten-free pumpkin latte grande this morning
- The Security Guard at your office who let you in without your pass today
- The IT Geek who cured your laptop and cleared your cookies when it “caught a virus” last week
- The coach of your daughter’s minor league soccer team
- Your health care providers and your police, fire and military services
- Your lawyer, your accountant, your insurance agent
- The garbage collectors and the snow plow operators, you have come to rely on
- …You get the idea.
Again I say to all, “Happy Thanksgiving!”
About the author: Bruce McAlpine is President of Fulcrum Search Science Inc., a Toronto-based executive search firm solving Mission-Critical hiring challenges throughout North America for more than 50 years. He is also a Past President of the Association of Canadian Search, Employment & Staffing Services and a Past President of the Royal Military Colleges Club of Canada. He can be reached at 416.779.8505 or firstname.lastname@example.org .