Monday, November 14, 2011

THANKSGIVING DAY = AMERICAN FEAST or turkey-day chowdown, eyes glued to idiot box.

     A mid-east Arab gentlemen, a few years ago, wrote an editorial in the Bangor Daily News about what he experienced in American homes during several Thanksgiving Day dinners. He observed that it was quite evident we Americans consider Thanksgiving Day as a time to watch endless hours of football while engaged in a relentless stuffing of faces with drinks, turkey and snacks. He was surprised that this specifically American-only holiday was such an irreligious festival of gluttony and hedonism. In his defense, it should be admitted, that some Americans do celebrate the popular heathen feast of "turkey-day" (with no intent to thank our Maker whatsoever); and where the day is primarily about being a TV tackle-fest addict becoming a food inhaling machine, while putting forth some kind of thankful mental mode which can be credited merely to a healthy paycheck, good education, good genes, a beneficent government and a bounteous landscape that produces all kinds of food, national wealth, comfortable homes and good-looking automobiles. Oh, how obscenely wrong this is. The Arab gentlemen based his misinterpretation of our national holiday upon one or several historically-challenged and/or just plain ignorant families.

THANKSGIVING DAY is a celebration which many of us continue to observe with true foundational reasons using historical dishes and recipes in creating a solid traditional and religiously solemn feast. And it might be added, in so doing, we continue what was begun in 1621 on our shores in gaining a full heart and satisfied mind by retaining excellent familial -- yet God-centered -- practices. Thanksgiving to God is a continuum of our core American place in history; and thus, we actually then bequeath to our children and grandchildren an activity of incalculable value. To validate this point: The following historic documents speak for themselves:

THE NOVEMBER 11th, 1620 MAYFLOWER COMPACT: "In the name of God, Amen. We, whose names are underwritten, the Loyal Subjects of our dread Sovereign Lord, King James, by the Grace of God, of England, France and Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith, e&. Having undertaken for the Glory of God, and Advancement of the Christian Faith, and the Honour of our King and Country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the northern parts of Virginia; do by these presents, solemnly and mutually in the Presence of God and one of another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil Body Politick, for our better Ordering and Preservation, and Furtherance of the Ends aforesaid; And by Virtue hereof to enact, constitute, and frame, such just and equal Laws, Ordinances, Acts, Constitutions and Offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the General good of the Colony, unto which we promise all due submission and obedience. In Witness whereof we have hereunto subscribed our names at Cape Cod the eleventh of November, in the Reign of our Sovereign Lord, King James of England, France and Ireland, the eighteenth, and of Scotland the fifty-fourth. Anno Domini, 1620."
     /signatures/ "John Carver, William Bradford, Edward Winslow, William Brewster, Isaac Allerton, Myles Standish, John Alden, Samuel Fuller, Christopher Martin, William Mullins, William White, Richard Warren, John Howland, Stephen Hopkins, Edward Tilley, John Tilley, Francis Cooke, Thomas Rogers, Thomas Tinker, John Rigsdale, Edward Fuller, John Turner, Francis Eaton, James Chilton John Crackstone, John Billington, Moses Fletcher, John Goodman, Degory Priest, Thomas Willliams, Gilbert Winslow, Edmund Margesson, Peter Brown, Richard Britteridge, George Soule, Richard Clarke, Richard Gardinar, John Allerton, Thomas English, Edward Doty, Edward Leister."

DEAR READER: Don't be afraid to read the awkward old English words and phrases. You may be tempted to skip over some of it; or worse, not even read these valuable first-hand, eye-witness accounts and documents of our foundation as a nation; but then, you place yourself at risk of being ignorant of our American heritage. These accounts almost 400 years old, one over 200, and another over 100 are the real deal. It's what, when, where, who and why we Americans are Americans.

1st THANKSGIVING AT PLYMOUTH: NOVEMBER, 1621: Governor Bradford wrote of the Pilgrims and their first Thanksgiving Feast this way: "For summer being done, all things stand upon them with a weather-beaten face; and the whole countrie, full of woods and thickets, represented a wild and savage hue. If they looked behind them, there was the mighty ocean which they had passed, and was now as a maine barr and golfe to separate them from all the civill parts of the world. What could now sustaine them but the spirite of God and his grace? May not and ought not the children of these fathers rightly say: 'Our Fathers were Englishmen which came over this great ocean, and were ready to perish in this willderness; but they cried unto the Lord, and he heard their voyce, and looked on their adversitie. Let them therefore praise the Lord, because he is good, and his mercies endure for ever'."
     Bradford wrote of the First Thanksgiving Feast being held in November of 1621 which was about celebrating the arrival of the ship FORTUNE with provisions; the gathering of a fair harvest; and a: "Great store of wild Turkies, which they took many besides venison. At which time amongst other recreations, we exercised our arms [my emphasis], many of the Indians coming amongst us, and among the rest, their greatest king, Massasoyt, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted."

1st THANKSGIVING PROCLAMATION: NOV. 29th, 1623: "Inasmuch as the great Father has given us this year an abundant harvest of Indian corn, wheat, peas, beans, squashes, and garden vegetables, and has made the forests to abound with game and the sea with fish and clams, and inasmuch as He has protected us from the ravages of the savages, has spared us from pestilence and disease, has granted us freedom to worship God according to the dictates of our own conscience."
     "Now I, your magistrate, do proclaim that all ye Pilgrims, with your wives, and ye little ones, do gather at ye meeting house, on ye hill, between the hours of 9 and 12 in the daytime, on Thursday, November 29th, of the year of our Lord one thousand six hundred and twenty three and the third year since ye Pilgrims landed on ye Pilgrim Rock, there to listen to ye pastor and render thanksgiving to ye Almighty God for all His blessings."
 /s/ "William Bradford
Ye Governor of Ye Colony"

"New York, 3 October 1789
 "By the President of the United States of America, a Proclamation.
      "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 shewn 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 increase 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."
 /s/ "Go: Washington"

"By the President of the United States of America. A Proclamation.
     "The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom."
     "No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union."
     "In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed. Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth."
 /s/ "Abraham Lincoln"

HISTORIC & TRADITIONAL THANKSGIVING DINNERS should then include: roast turkey, venison, clams, oysters, cranberries, beans, corn, squash and pumpkin, [with perhaps some target-practice to exercise our arms]; but above all, the gathering should include bowed or uplifted heads in a prayer of thanksgiving to our Heavenly Father Who so bounteously bestows His blessings upon our nation. The choice is ours: Either just another high-caloric, non-event, chowdown, OR: a true thanksgiving prayer to God with an authentic American Thanksgiving Dinner acknowledging His Divine Providence in our nation's history and a supplication for His continued sustenance.

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