The Pilgrims Didn’t Eat Turkey

Squanto illustration

It’s that time of year…yep, time for the ubiquitous Thanksgiving newsletter. You know, the one that reminds you to thank your employees, your vendors, your customers, total strangers, etc. Don’t get me wrong. I love Thanksgiving and what it stands for, it’s just that there is so much more to the story that we never discuss.

For example, did you know that the Pilgrims didn’t celebrate Thanksgiving? Really, for them, it was simply the annual harvest festival, something they had participated in annually for their entire lives. This was not something special. The original Thanksgiving was a religious day of prayer that took place in July of 1623. It wasn’t until the end of the 17th century that these two holidays were combined.*

Also, while turkey was consumed, it was far from the main course. The first feast probably consisted of venison, waterfowl, a lot of seafood (they were a coastal community), and some turkey. Turkey didn’t become the main protein of Thanksgiving until the 1840’s almost 200 years after the initial feast.
With all the misnomers about Thanksgiving, is it really an important holiday? The answer is a resounding YES! How Thanksgiving as we know it came about is not important. What is important is that it is a celebration of one of our most important values, gratefulness.

Being grateful is what I call a hidden American value. I call it hidden because it is not expressly stated. However, it is a requirement to achieve one of our most important values, the pursuit of happiness. Simply put, if you want to be happy, be grateful. When we look at our lives from a viewpoint of what do I have, as opposed to what am I lacking, it changes our viewpoint and our emotional state. In short, gratitude begets happiness.

Thanksgiving reminds us to reflect on the good things in our lives. If I have one beef with Thanksgiving it is that for too many people it only occurs once each year. In my world, Thanksgiving is a 365-day holiday. I strive to wake up every day and take stock of what I have in abundance and be grateful for it.

What are you grateful for? Leave a comment and let me know.



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