That issue is far more complicated than most of the people commenting on it even realize. And, that is beyond the scope of our publication so I will not go into that here. However, what is in the purview of our magazine is commentary on how myth, legend, and belief plays a role in the lives of individuals as well as the larger society.
Today, we have very rigid standards for history. And we want the truth down to the nitty gritty. But, history and myth have BOTH always served a role to any society. We tell historical and mythical stories to give us a sense of identity, to ground us with roots to the society in which we live, and to unite us together as a people and culture. Today we might call history told with a nationalistic agenda propaganda, and that's fair enough. But, it's just not pragmatic to think that a society doesn't benefit by a positive sense of self and some semblance of unity, even when we disagree with one another as individuals.
Furthermore, regardless of what religion an individual practices, a scheduled holiday serves a broader purpose than simply promoting a religion. Until recently, holidays always meant time off from work, guaranteed time with your family, a long weekend to decompress and recharge your batteries. As someone who is not a Christian myself, I am very disturbed by the onslaught of attacks on the holidays that have been a mainstay in American, and more broadly Western, culture for generations. Whether the attacks are for religious or political reasons, the effect is an erosion of a scheduled time of celebration.
As a society, it is time that we ask ourselves, is this better? Again, as someone who is unequivocally NOT a Christian and more informed on history than many people, I am quite happy to be told Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas. Wish me a Happy Hanukkah, Merry Kwanzaa, or Happy Diwali. I'll take it. I'm not Irish nor Catholic, but I don't get mad if you wish me a Happy St. Paddy's Day, do you? Perhaps we need to stop being so easily offended over everything and begin building bridges instead of throwing stones.
So, in the spirit of celebrating Thanksgiving with a positive vibe and promote unity, family togetherness, and a refreshing break from the tedium of modern life, I share with you a very short story from 1915.
"A Thanksgiving Story: a three minute story for boys and girls" by Miss L. B. Pingree
It was nearly time for Thanksgiving Day. The rosy apples and golden pumpkins were ripe, and the farmers were bringing them into the markets.
One day when two little children, named John and Minnie, were going to school, they saw the turkeys and chickens and pumpkins in the window of a market, and they exclaimed, "Oh, Thanksgiving Day! Oh, Thanksgiving Day!" After school was over, they ran home to their mother, and asked her when Thanksgiving Day would be.
She told them in about two weeks; then they began to talk about what they wanted for dinner, and asked their mother a great many questions. She told them she hoped they would have turkey and even the pumpkin pie they wanted so much, but that Thanksgiving Day was not given us so that we might have a good dinner, but that God had been a great many days and weeks preparing for Thanksgiving. He had sent the sunshine and the rain and caused the grains and fruits and vegetables to grow. And Thanksgiving Day was for glad and happy thoughts about God, as well as for good things to eat.
They saved their pennies, and bought some corn, and early Thanksgiving Day, before they had their dinner, they went out into the street near their home, and scattered corn in a great many places. What for? Why, for the birds. While they were doing it, John said, "I know, Minnie, why you thought of the birds: because they do not have any papas and mammas after they are grown up to get a dinner for them on Thanksgiving Day." "Yes, that is why," said Minnie.
By and by the birds came and found such a feast, and perhaps they knew something about Thanksgiving Day and must have sung and chirped happily all day.
Make your own new family tradition by reading 100 year old Thanksgiving stories to your kids. Get it for free from Project Gutenberg.
Read a more in-depth article about the history of Thanksgiving here.
Post by Carolyn Emerick, MythMag editor