Tomorrow, Thursday November 22nd, is the day that Americans will celebrate Thanksgiving this year. It is a floating holiday falling on the fourth Thursday in November. (Canadians celebrate a similar holiday on the second Monday in October.) The earliest American celebrations of the holiday took place in 1619 and 1621 at the end of the harvest season. It is a day which most Americans dedicate to the overindulgence of food and drink. Many also take the opportunity provided by the long weekend to spend time with their families and give thanks for the positive things in their lives.
During his presidency George Washington issued the Thanksgiving Proclamation in which he stated that Thanksgiving should be devoted to thanking God for all that is good and designated a Constitutional holiday. Nearly every successive president has issued a similar proclamation. It was not until 1939 during the Roosevelt presidency that the 4th Thursday in November was designated for the holiday and not until 1941 when Congress approved it.
Having said that I would like to remind us all what else the holiday commemorates. The Pilgrims upon whose memory the original holiday rests, in addition to feasting after the harvest season, were celebrating their recent migration from England and the escape from British state sponsored religious persecution of their Puritan beliefs. These same religious refugees set up their new homes in the “new” world so they could freely persecute the beliefs of others and practice a systematic decimation of the indigenous population of the land which they had claimed for themselves without consulting the original and true owners.
So this Thanksgiving while I will be thankful for all the wonderful things in my life I will also be thankful that I am not out on the roads with all of the drunk idiots who seem to come out of the woodwork to the detriment of sober drivers everywhere. I am thankful that I am not responsible for the slaughter of an entire race of people and that I am not a Puritanical Christian devoted to narrow minded persecution of other people’s right to their own religious beliefs. I am also thankful that as of yet this country still maintains a semblance of the separation of Church and State and although the Founding Fathers and State decreed a holiday to the praise of their God, I am still free to be thankful for being an Athiest.