Giving Thanks

Contrary to popular belief, the first recorded Thanksgiving ceremony took place on September 8, 1565. Under the leadership of Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, six hundred Spaniards landed at what is now St. Augustine, Florida, and immediately held a Mass of Thanksgiving for their safe delivery to the New World; there followed a feast and celebration. It had nothing to do with Pilgrims, Indians or turkey…that happened fifty-six years later.

In fact, the Pilgrims of Plymouth owe quite a bit of thanks to Squanto, a Patuxet Native American who resided with the Wampanoag tribe. Squanto taught the Pilgrims how to catch eel, grow corn and served as an interpreter for them; he learned English as a slave in Europe.

In 1621, immediately after their first harvest, the Pilgrims set apart a day to celebrate. At the time, this was not regarded as a Thanksgiving observance; harvest festivals were existing parts of English and Wampanoag tradition alike. The Pilgrims did not hold a true Thanksgiving until 1623, following a drought. The Pilgrims prayed for rain and a rain shower followed. In the Plymouth tradition, Thanksgiving Day became a church observance, rather than a feast day.

The day two races came together to give thanks, share food and fellowship should be remembered, celebrated and honored. However, the commercialism of today’s Thanksgiving celebration, with the plethora of tacky turkey trinkets makes me gag, yuck! Not to trivialize an important day in American history, but shouldn’t we be giving thanks for the gifts, blessings and love we receive on a daily basis, not just on a designated Thursday in November? Yes, many of us do, but far too many do not.

On Thanksgiving Day, when you sit down to your traditional meal and celebrate with family and friends, start a new tradition…giving thanks daily.

Wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving and toasting new traditions...cheers!

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Bonnie Morét is an award-winning photographer recognized by The Georgia Council of the Arts as "an exceptional representation of contemporary Georgia art work." Her photography is featured on Georgia Public Broadcast's Georgia Traveler. Her exhibitions include Fifth Annual Exposure Awards at Musee du Louvre in Paris, France, Art Takes Miami at Scope Art during Art Basel Miami, Metro Montage XIII at the Marietta/Cobb Museum of Art, World of Water at the Georgia Aquarium, Open Walls at Black Box Gallery in Portland, Oregon, Wholly Georgia: A Look at the Effects of Southern Religious Culture, sponsored by the Art History League and Georgia State University, at Mint Gallery in Atlanta, Georgia, 6x6 at the Rochester Contemporary Arts Center in Rochester, New York, @Phonography: Dialogue in the Wireless Age, at 3 Ring Circus in New Orleans, Louisiana, and About Lands and Lives of the Civil War at the 6th Cavalry Museum in Ft. Oglethorpe, Georgia. Her photography appears in Modern Luxury/The Atlantan, Jezebel Magazine, and hangs in the executive offices at the Georgia State Capitol as part of the Art of Georgia exhibit. Corporate clients include Atlanta Ballet, Atlanta History Center, Chanel Cosmetics, Christian Dior Cosmetics, Sharp Mountain Vineyards, PM Realty Group, Granite Properties, Road Atlanta, Patrón Tequila, Georgia's Own Credit Union, StubHub, CBM Records and The Washington Auto Show.