“Thanksgiving: Where Hunger Goes to Die” is upon us.

Bob Kalish observes life from a placid place on the island of Arrowsic (motto: You’re not in Georgetown yet). You can reach him at [email protected]

It’s been almost a full year since the first cases of COVID-19 were reported in China and the situation is horrendous. We’ve spent almost a year in lockdown, trying to remember our face masks, our gloves and not to give or receive hugs, while staring out the window as our friends practice social distancing without us.

But there is always Thanksgiving.

And lo, the Pilgrims said come close, but not too close, and the natives did and life was good. Celebrating the annual harvest with a feast of some kind began way before televised football, as far back as the dawn of civilization or the first match-up between the Lions and the Cowboys. Today, Thanksgiving Day in the U.S. is a federal holiday celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November.

The American tradition of Thanksgiving dates back to 1621, when the Pilgrims celebrated their first bountiful harvest. The settlers had arrived in November 1620, founding the first permanent English settlement in the New England region. A year later the first Thanksgiving went on for three days, with the settlers feasting with the natives on dried fruits, boiled pumpkin, turkey, venison and much more.

The celebration, however, was not repeated until many years later, when in 1789 George Washington proclaimed Thanksgiving to be a national holiday on Thursday, Nov. 26, of that year – setting the precedent of the last Thursday in November. Then President Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday in November a national day of Thanksgiving in 1863. Every year following, the president proclaimed a day of Thanksgiving, up until 1939. Thanksgiving was then switched from the final Thursday in November to the next-to-last Thursday by President Roosevelt, who wanted to create a longer Christmas shopping period to simulate the economy, still recovering after the Great Depression.

Finally, in 1941 Congress sanctioned the fourth Thursday in November as a legal holiday. As such it has become a time when we pause to express gratitude for the blessings of the year, to give thanks.

If you are having a difficult time coming up with blessings to celebrate, try these:

THANKS to all those workers in supermarkets, food stores and other places who work the cash registers and stock the shelves and wear their masks just so I can pick up a couple of rolls of toilet paper.

THANKS to the coronavirus pandemic for making us aware of our country’s shortfalls in public health, so that if it ever happens again, we’ll be prepared.

THANKS to circumstances that have resulted in us being privileged to live and work in Maine.

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