Integrity Matters
November 22, 2006

Thanksgiving has much meaning

Question: (E-269)

Dear Jim:

Thanksgiving seems to have become little more than the day before the launch of Christmas shopping, the biggest retail day of the year. How did our society lose the integrity of the day originally set aside, in the early 1600s by the Pilgrims? They paused for humble appreciation. What ought one do on Thanksgiving?


Thanksgiving Day is an annual one-day to (traditionally two) at the close of the harvest season, officially started in 1621. In the middle of the, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln, proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day, to be celebrated on the final Thursday of November. In 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared that Thanksgiving would be the next-to-last Thursday of November. With the country still in the midst of the Great Depression, Roosevelt thought this would give merchants a longer period to sell goods before.

Increasing profits and spending during this period, Roosevelt hoped, would aid bringing the country out of the Depression. This seems to be how we arrived at where we are.

My recommendation is to enjoy a good meal with family and friends. Include time to offer thanksgiving for some or all of the following:

  • Opportunities to live and prosper in a society with the freedoms and life-affirming principles forged by complicated and committed citizens who, nearly 250 years ago, formulated the Constitution and Bill of Rights.
  • Friends and family who care and support you, even with their full knowledge of your imperfections.
  • Faith you have the spiritual truths that feed your mind and soul.
  • Health and safety professionals including doctors, dentists, nurses, medical support personnel, officers of the law, emergency personnel and those in the armed forces who risk their lives without complaint, and public servants who labor on behalf of so very many who are unable to protect themselves.
  • Teachers and professors, from preschool to graduate level, who transfer essential cultural building blocks and inspire intellectual breakthroughs that propel society along positive and constructive pathways.
  • Hospitality workers who clean rooms, wash dishes, garden, do laundry, park cars, maintain sidewalks and offer a pleasant respite from the demands of everyday living.
  • Artists, actors, entertainers and musicians, on stage, in concerts and films, including television, theater and radio, who provide renewal through stimulating diversion and creative escape.
  • Sports figures who demonstrate the benefits of sacrifice, hard work and teamwork.
  • Your parents - living and dead - for having brought you into the world.
  • Mentors who have taught important lessons for life and success.
  • Your body and its organs which enable you to breathe, listen, understand, speak, communicate, and offer integrity-centered Thanksgiving

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