Thanksgiving Day is not observed in the United Kingdom, but is however, a day that we Americans give thanks for good fortune in our lives, just as the English settlers in Plymouth had done after their first harvest with the assistance of the local Native American population.
For this writer, Thanksgiving is a day reflection, prayer, and spending time with family. With the world running at an ever more dizzying pace, it is good to have holidays such as this one. Sometimes, we do need to slow down and think about our lives, what we are thankful for, and why.
Of course, we should be thankful for our blessings every day on both side of the Pond, but I believe that Thanksgiving Day allows us to truly reflect on our lives and appreciate the good fortune we have - however big or small.
For my part, I am thankful for being able wake up and live another day on Earth. I am thankful for being able to walk, talk, breathe, smell, and see; thankful for the blood that warmly flows through my veins, as well has for the use of my limbs.
I am thankful for my life and good health - being free of serious ailments, diseases, and physical injuries; thankful for having a mind (and being in my right mind) to get up and be productive - to carry out my daily activities and having the opportunity to advance myself and work toward something better in life.
I am also thankful for the clothes on my back, the roof over my head, the food that I eat, and the water that I drink. I am thankful for my job and the people with whom I work; thankful for my family and friends - near and far - who help to provide laughter and fellowship when I need it most.
I am thankful for creating this blog and being able to give my views and opinions on the UK and events affecting it today, and I am thankful for the people who are reading it.
With that said, here is George Washington's proclamation of our first Thanksgiving in 1789:
Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor, and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me "to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness."
Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be. That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks, for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation, for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his providence, which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war, for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed, for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted, for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.
And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions, to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually, to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed, to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shown kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord. To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and Us, and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.
Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.
I do not believe that most people can find disagreement with such profound words.
Today, Thanksgiving is a mainstay of life in the United States, with a grand feast and football games just as important as reflection and spending time with family, and its importance has grown in part because it marks the beginning of the Christmas season.
As was said at the beginning, the UK does not officially observe the day, but as was reported in the Telegraph and the Guardian, Thanksgiving is increasingly gaining popularity in Britain. 1 in 6 Britons now celebrating it in part because of the country's close connections to the US and Canada (which has its own Thanksgiving Day), and the influence of American culture in Britain - especially among those spend much time on both sides of the Pond and/or have dual British-American citizenship. If nothing else, it is a testament to how we take our cues from one another, as we have been doing for ages.
So, perhaps I'll bring a turkey or two if I visit the UK around this time of the year!
Happy Thanksgiving Day!