Over the past year, I have had much to be thankful for. It is easy to go from day to day, not really thinking about your blessings and joys, which is why I like Thanksgiving.
Take away the turkey, the stuffing, the cranberry sauce and all the trimmings and you are left with a day to thank your family and friends, a day to mull over the good things in your life.
Some of my ancestors were at the first Thanksgiving. Some arrived in the US much later. All came to the US to make a better life for themselves and their families. On the whole I like to think they succeeded -- although the criterion for success has not always been measured in material things.
The basis of Thanksgiving dinner stems from what was available to the first European settlers in the Northeast of the US. The Turkey is the native game bird. Cranberries grow wild in swamps. Potatoes, corn, and pumpkins are native plants. In the South, things like oysters and pecans form part of the feast.
It is a chance to reflect that the harvest is safely gathered in and people are safe.
It came as a great relief when I was able to get the fresh ingredients that I need for my thanksgiving over here. We will not go into my dismay when I discovered that canned pumpkin was not available in Newcastle or my joy when due to Delia Smith, fresh cranberries became widely sold.
From its humble beginnings, the idea grew and took root in the American pysche. It is different from an English harvest festival and it transcends religious boundaries. It is a time for sharing in the bountiful harvest.
I won't bore you with those things I am thankful for, but suffice it to say my life overflows. And I always think of those Pilgrim fathers, having survived a terrible winter, and giving thanks for the new land.