Our Thanksgiving holiday traces its roots back to 1621 when colonists held a feast with local Indians and gave thanks to God for a bountiful harvest.
It was 240 years later, 1861, when Abraham Lincoln made Thanksgiving an official holiday held in late November. President Franklin Roosevelt set the official holiday for the fourth Thursday of each November.
I wonder what possessed our presidents to put a national holiday in the middle of the week? School teachers, students and many factory workers do enjoy the four day weekend that this causes.
It doesn’t work that way for those of us in the newspaper business. For my adult life I have worked on what has become to be known as Black Friday.
Currently there are nine other countries that set aside a national holiday to give thanks. Three of them are nearly identical with our custom — Canada, Liberia and Norfolk Island, located east of Australia.
Canada’s Thanksgiving actually predates ours by 43 years, with the first Canadian Thanksgiving believed to have been held in 1578.
Liberia, officially the Republic of Liberia, is a country in west Africa that shares many American traditions, including Thanksgiving. It was founded by freed American slaves, declaring its independence on July 26, 1847.
Norfolk Island owes its tradition of Thanksgiving to an American trader.
The other countries with some form of Thanksgiving holiday are China, Germany, Grenada, Japan, South Korea and Vietnam,.
One thing Thanksgiving can do is remind us all that we should be grateful all year long, not just one day of the year.
Studies have shown that there are seven benefits of being grateful.
1. Gratitude opens the door to more relationships. Showing appreciation can help you win new friends, according to a 2014 study published in Emotion.
2. Gratitude improves physical health. Grateful people experience fewer aches and pains and they report feeling healthier than other people, according to a 2012 study published in Personality and Individual Differences.
3. Gratitude improves psychological health. Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D., a leading gratitude researcher, has conducted multiple studies on the link between gratitude and well-being.
4. Gratitude enhances empathy and reduces aggression. Grateful people are more likely to behave in a pro-social manner, even when others behave less kind, according to a 2012 study by the University of Kentucky.
5. Grateful people sleep better. Writing in a gratitude journal improves sleep, according to a 2011 study published in Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being.
6. Gratitude improves self-esteem. A 2014 study published in the Journal of Applied Sport Psychology found that gratitude increased athlete’s self-esteem.
7. Gratitude increases mental strength. A 2006 study published in Behavior Research and Therapy found that Vietnam War Veterans with higher levels of gratitude experienced lower rates of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Following the example set by the pilgrims my family gives thanks to God.
I’m thankful for the many blessings given to me from the Almighty including my wonderful family and my health.
This year part of my extended family will be dining with us around the table at my parent’s house.
That is something I am most grateful for. They include my sister, her husband and their adult children and in laws.
Driving down from the great state of Wisconsin to be with us on Thanksgiving will be Abby along with Ethan and his wife Hillary. Driving a few blocks with his lovely wife Jessica will be my number one son, Jacob.
What are you thankful for?
In a repeating pattern of 6, 5, 6 and 11 years the Thanksgiving Holiday falls on Nov. 28, which just so happens to be my birthday. This year will be the ninth time the holiday has coincided with my birthday. It won’t happen again until 2024.
The first year I blew out candles on my birthday cake on Thanksgiving I was four years old. With these details those who are mathematically inclined should be able to calculate my age.