Celebrating Thanksgiving in 2020


Photo Courtesy of Pixnio

Painting depicting the first Thanksgiving in 1621 by Pilgrims in Plymouth

Spencer Gorka, The Scroll, Staff Writer

Thanksgiving is a national holiday celebrated throughout the U.S. Citizens learn the story of the first Thanksgiving and what the holiday embodies from a very young age, but in this time of a COVID-19 stress and racial and political unrest, Americans may be finding it hard to be thankful this year. This is a crucial time for the reflection and thankfulness that Thanksgiving and the holidays bring. What is there to celebrate and be thankful for in 2020?

In September of 1620, the Mayflower set sail from Plymouth, England, containing passengers bound for a journey across the Atlantic.  These passengers were religious separatists, leaving England in pursuit of freedom to practice their religion. The 66 day journey was tedious, with unsanitary and uncomfortable conditions causing several people to get sick and die before landfall. 

Establishing the colony Plymouth, the pilgrims faced a harsh winter before coming into contact with Native Americans, including the native Squanto, who spoke English and taught them how to produce agriculture in the new land. He also helped the alliance between the settlers and the Wampanoag tribe which lasted for 50 years, and was a role model for harmony between more Native Americans and pilgrims. The Native Americans helped them and they were able to give something back in return. It seems like we need something like this taste of harmony to happen in our own lives.

In November,1621, the Pilgrims’ first harvest was so successful that Governor William Bradford organized a celebration feast with the Native Americans allies. This feast would become known as the First Thanksgiving. Edward Winslow, a settler in Plymouth noted in his journal, “And although it be not always so plentiful, as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want, that we often with you partakers of our plenty.” The Pilgrims went through a huge loss but were able to unite with their local Native Americans with peace. This was a time of unity, rather than divided-ness.

Abraham Lincoln would make Thanksgiving a national holiday in 1863, during the height of the Civil War. He prayed to God to, “commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners, or suffers in the lamentable civil strife,” and to “heal the wounds of the nation.”  Look at how much we need that now in our country now, over a century later.

Thanksgiving has evolved to envelope the many modern traditions we know today, like the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, turkey as the main dish of the dinner, and having one or two turkeys pardoned by the President. There are many other traditions other families might share as well. Thanksgiving is definitely a holiday that is worth celebrating, especially this year.

This year 2020 has taken its toll on all of us, and holidays like Thanksgiving might not feel the same as they were in years before. Thanksgiving is full of thanks and thinking of the people and things we can be thankful for in the year that we have been through. Some may feel that with all 2020 has thrown our way, what can we truly be thankful for? 

It is important to recognize and give thanks for the seemingly little, yet impactful, things. Being able to still receive an education and to be in touch with those we love, however socially distant, for instance. Access to technology, to communicate with loved ones. To have friends and family who stay by you through all the pain and the suffering. For some, to have a faith that brings peace beyond understanding. The list can go on. This is what we can be thankful for in the year 2020.