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  • Writer's picturePaula Wesselmann

The Blessings of Thanksgiving

Charles Dickens, the English novelist, and social critic who created some of my favorite characters over the years, must get some credit for our Thanksgiving turkey. The meal shared between Pilgrim settlers at Plymouth colony, which now is Massachusetts, and the Wampanoag people in late 1621 does not indicate that turkey was present during their three-day feast. The Wampanoag brought deer, and the Pilgrims provided fowl, which historians believe were probably ducks and geese.

In 1843, Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol bolstered the idea of turkey as a holiday meal with all the trimmings. Still, it was Sarah Josepha Hale, in 1827, who devoted an entire chapter in her novel Northwest to a New England Thanksgiving, with a roasted turkey “placed at the head of the table.” At that time, she also campaigned to establish Thanksgiving as a national holiday in the United States, which she believed would help to unify the country as we grew closer to civil war. Sarah got her wish on October 3, 1863, when President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed with a victory in mind as the Civil War continued. “I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, …to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving …”

Thanksgiving has a rich history with an expression of gratitude, especially to God, generosity, and friendship. May this holiday bring you peace, joy, and abundance during these turbulent times, when our hearts cry out for peace throughout the world.

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