Articles, Baja Norte

Giving Thanks

It’s Time to Appreciate How Truly Blessed We Are

The spooks and ghouls of Halloween have gone into hiding; the departed loved ones who were honored during Day of the Dead await their next visit to their living counterparts.

The languid, lazy days of summer are over. School is back in session. Days are short, and flu season is back with a vengeance.

So how do we deal with the crisp fall months and the promise of another winter season?

We go shopping, of course!

Once upon a time (but well before MY time, I’m fairly certain), each holiday was representative of a corresponding season and usually was representative of a religious (or spiritual) observance.

Now that we’ve become indoctrinated by the corporate guidelines of product release dates and numeric progressions (we’re up to iPhone 11 and Samsung Galaxy S-10), we know what Junior wants to find in his Christmas stocking well before the younger kids go trick-or-treating.

Nothing wrong with that. We’re evolving as a race. We want everyone to be happy and fulfilled.

But way back in our memory banks the true meaning of each holiday still resides. We know that, well before our time, many people paid some significant dues in order to guarantee that we would have the freedom to worship and to celebrate each and every holiday in whatever manner we so choose.

Thanksgiving is celebrated in countries other than the United States, but is generally accepted in each of them to be a time of recognizing and honoring a power greater than ourselves, a power that governs the seasons and the bounty of the earth itself, and is therefore respectfully paid tribute to by either fasting during lean times or feasting during successful ones.

Pilgrims and Puritans who emigrated from England in the 1620’s and 1630’s celebrated Days of Fasting and Days of Thanksgiving in their home country and brought those traditions with them to their new home in North America.

In 1619, possibly the first Thanksgiving feast was celebrated by a group of 38 English settlers at Charles City County, Virginia. This event had been decreed as a religious celebration in recognition of the grace of God, by whose blessing the travelers reached their destination safely.

In 1621, another group of settlers celebrated at Plymouth Rock in what is now Massachusetts. They were fortunate in that the Native American Indians were generous and kind, and provided them with a bountiful feast to celebrate the success of their long journey.

Subsequent celebrations in New England included another celebration in Plymouth in 1623 and a Puritan holiday in Boston in 1631.

Up until 1682, religious leaders proclaimed that annual celebrations be held in reverence and appreciation for the bountiful gifts provided by successful harvests, most of which occurred well before the November date which later became set as the last Thursday of each November.

As the first President of the United States, George Washington decreed that November 26th be recognized as a national holiday, “as a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favours of Almighty God.”

Later, President Franklin D. Roosevelt made Thanksgiving a celebration to be held on the last Thursday of November, providing for a four-day holiday for many workers and their families.

So here we are! As with many if not all of the traditional holidays, Thanksgiving has evolved into a shopping frenzy, this one happening just before  Christmas. “Black Friday” has become an annual circus during which adults flock to the brick-and-mortar retail outlets to fight each other over the latest gadget from Apple or Microsoft to place beneath the aluminum Christmas tree for their beloved children.

In reality, the beauty of Thanksgiving is that it is a time for family members to enjoy a brief reunion, to give thanks for their health and safety, and to enjoy a few days of relaxation away from the stress of the workplace and a return to the comfort of home, sweet home.

Although Thanksgiving is not officially a holiday in Mexico, many ex-pats living in the Mediterranean warmth and security of Baja celebrate here anyway.

Many restaurants have Thanksgiving specials, catering to the people who cherish that holiday as a time to take stock of their many blessings and give thanks accordingly.

Also, as Thanksgiving is a signpost that Christmas is almost upon us, many people show their appreciation for their good fortune by donating to local shelters, orphanages, and institutions such as Cruz Roja.

Giving thanks by giving back is the most spiritual way one can show his or her appreciation for the good life here in Baja.

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