The Spirit of Thanksgiving

What does it mean to evoke the true spirit of Thanksgiving?

Every year on the fourth Thursday in November, Americans gather for a feast of epic proportions. After seeing the amount of food most Americans consume this day, I’m not surprised how obese the nation is! It’s alright though, women love the dad-bod.

Some people may think Thanksgiving’s main purpose is to eat a bunch of food, others make it a day to watch some high-quality football. For instance, one of my family rituals is to gather around the TV for some quality time with the Jerry Jones and the Dallas Cowboys.

Really though, that is not the true spirit of Thanksgiving.

It is up to us, the American citizens, to truly celebrate Thanksgiving the correct way, to evoke the spirit behind the food, football, and fun.

The Spirit of Thanksgiving

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Historians don’t know the exact date of the first Thanksgiving meal.

There are only two accounts written about the event.

This is something quite odd. As with other historical events, there are numerous written accounts of the events. Sometimes it’s by someone like Homer who was just the official historian of the time, and other times it’s done by news outlets or other historians. Before the time of social media (I know, it’s hard to believe people had to use actuals writing utensils and paper!), people kept their journals and diaries by hand instead of publicly online.

In the case of the first Thanksgiving, there was a very small pool of people to start with. Only 53 of the original 102 colonists survived the voyage on the Mayflower and the harsh winter. This was partly due to the Wampanoag Indians also located in Massachusetts.

Of the small group that made it, only William Bradford’s journal, now titled “Of Plymouth Plantation,” and Edward Winslow’s journal, which is titled “Mourt’s Relations.”

Neither of the two wrote too extensively on the First Thanksgiving, but I love Edward Winslow’s account. He has a sentence that really talks about what is supposed to be celebrated at Thanksgiving.

Winslow on the Spirit of Thanksgiving

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Winslow says, “And although it be not always so plentiful, as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want, that we often wish you partakers of our plenty.”

This one sentence is exactly what Americans need to keep in mind when they are stuffing their face with turkey this Thanksgiving.

It opens with “[a]nd although it be not always so plentiful…” This statement is making sure that everyone is aware times aren’t always pretty. When we have so much turmoil happening in the country politically, we still have reason to be thankful. This doesn’t exclude anyone from prospering or getting hurt in life.

Winslow’s account continues with “as it was at this time with us…”

The continuation of this statement is encouraging. It shows that even though times get tough, there is light at the end of the tunnel. The adversity will come to an end and you will prosper through it.

There are highs and lows in life. The lows help us keep the correct perspective of the highs.

“Yet by the Goodness of God…” Winslow continues with an acknowledgement of thanks.

I’m not stupid, although as a Christian I would hope that everyone would acknowledge God as the reason for their prosperity, I recognize there are a lot of people out there that don’t believe in a higher power.

That being said, it’s important to simply be humble.

The gist of the acknowledgement portion is that you need to recognize why good things happen to you. Sometimes you have help from family and friends, you need to thank them personally. Sometimes it’s because you knew the right person at the right time, be thankful and express your gratitude.

Acknowledgement of your place in life is important, but acknowledgement of how you got there is the real spirit of Thanksgiving.

Winslow’s statement concludes with, “we are so far from want, that we often wish you partakers of our plenty.”

What should be taken from this is that when times are good, you take care of yourself AND others.

That’s right, here I come attacking anyone that hates charity.

I don’t mean giving to charities, although that is part of it. I’m specifically talking about donating anything you have in excess.

Sometimes you have excess money. Other times, you have excess stuff. The thing people have most abundantly that they waste: Time.

People hate giving up time. I’m not going to pretend like I’m not guilty of this. Sometimes I like to indulge in a few hours of mindless TV watching.

When it comes to Thanksgiving though, we should really spread the wealth.

That is not even kind of close to a call for the government to move from a democratic republic to a socialist or communist regime.

It’s a call for the people of America to give where they can.

For Thanksgiving, you might be able to bring over a lot more people to dine with you. While there, build friendships and comradery.

That’s one of the easiest ways to invoke the spirit of Thanksgiving. Open your table to others.

This was a lesson I really learned from my mother-in-law. She was always the first person I ever met to truly invite anyone in her home if they don’t have family for holidays. I’ve met more people through her than anyone else.

I will never forget my first Christmas with her. There was a guy there that we all knew, but when we gave him presents, he started crying and said it was the first time he ever got a present on Christmas.

This was a man in his thirties, and this was his first Christmas getting gifts.

My mother-in-law helped me realize how much I really have to give to help others. The most important thing she did was also teach me HOW to do this. She literally just would invite others to eat and be friends with us.

Make sure to bring your family and friends in on your new knowledge about the true spirit of Thanksgiving. Spread the message and you will grow the movement of being thankful. It will improve society as a whole.

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Written by Josh Whitworth

A native Texan, I got my bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Texas in Arlington. I am now a flight attendant by day (unless I get stuck working a red eye) and a freelance writer by night. My dad is a southern baptist pastor and my mom is a teacher. Their upbringing has taught me to be a God fearing man that is always looking to improve and learn. I am also a huge Disney fan, so when I’m not flying or writing, I can be found with my wife visiting the Disney Parks all over the world.

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