Giving Thanks

For Canadians a typical aspect of what we label as “American” is the tendency to steal the credit for someone´s idea.

So often Americans have the notion that if something is a great idea then it must have been America that came up with it.

Now, there is no denying that the United States has indeed come up with some great ideas, but where the US excels is in the marketing of a good idea.

And they market their ideas so well that the world and Americans themselves begin to believe that it was America that originated the notions.

Take, for example, the idea of the assembly line, Americans are convinced that it was an American named Henry Ford who invented it.

He didn´t.

He took a pre-existing idea and mechanised it.

Today is US Thanksgiving Day and many Americans are convinced that not only is their holiday the only Thanksgiving (it isn´t) but that it was Americans that came up with the idea in the first place.

Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving as well, but due to an earlier winter/shorter autumn, we celebrate Thanksgiving one month earlier.

Americans tell one another that the origin story of Thanksgiving celebrates the Pilgrims´ first year in America where they sat down with the natives who had taught them how to grow crops on American soil.

It is a nice story.

But throughout world history and all over the world, people have celebrated the harvest each autumn with some sort of thanksgiving ceremony.

Demeter, the ancient Greek goddess of grain, was thanked at the Festival of Thesmosphoria.

On the first day of autumn, married women built leafy shelters.

The second day was a day of fasting.

The third and final day was a feast with offerings to Demeter.

The Romans had Cerelia on 4 October when the fruits of the harvest were offered up to Ceres.

Cerelia was celebrated with music, parades, games and a feast.

The Chinese harvest festival, Chung Ch´ui, is held during the full moon in the 8th month.

This is the moon´s birthday, celebrated with special “moon cakes”, stamped with the picture of a rabbit.

(The Chinese see a rabbit, not a man, in the moon.)

The harvest festival of the Jews, Sukkoth, the feast of tabernacles, sees Jews building small huts out of branches and foilage and decorated with the fruits of the harvest.

Today in the US families are getting together over a turkey dinner.

Some of them may go to church and praise God for the blessings He has bestowed upon them.

Thanksgiving is one day of days, but every day is a great day to say “Thank you”.

In every area of human endeavour, there are things and people that have made our lives so much better.

Every day is a good day to reflect on all that is good in the world.

Think of the people who give of their time and love.

Think of the people without whom happiness would not be complete.

And we should not only be grateful for the blessings we have received, but as well we should give so that others may be blessed as well.

Many Americans tend to forget that their forefathers were refugees and immigrants themselves, coming to America in the hopes that their lives would be blessed and needing the help of those already there to make their pursuit of life, liberty and happiness possible.

There is something inherantly wrong about being grateful for your blessings, yet denying others the same opportunities to be blessed.

There is something inherantly wrong about living in fear and suspicion when it was the generosity of others that made your blessings possible.

And there is one other thing we must never forget when we consider harvest time:

We reap what we sow.




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