A Contemplation – and a Proclamation
A new friend of mine, a poet, brought to my attention a tribute to Thanksgiving that I had never heard before. I plan to read it at my Thanksgiving table today, because it is meaningful, it is poetic, and it is brief.
Often, the briefest speeches offer the biggest impact. Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address – which he gave after his audience sat for two hours listening to the famed orator Edward Everett – stretched for fewer than 275 words. Few remember what Everett said. But millions have heard through history the words of our beloved president.
Another politician, a Connecticut governor, wrote the short proclamation I share with you today. Wilbur Cross was an English teacher in Westport who became a professor at Yale University, then went on to a career in politics. He shouldered the state through the Great Depression, fought to repeal Prohibition, and opened the Merritt Parkway, a gateway into New England.
On this designated day, we have the chance to choose our gratitude. I recognize that Thanksgiving is controversial, because its history is steeped in the horrors of Manifest Destiny and the theft of land from the Native Americans who cared for those lands so deeply and so lovingly. We can’t change history, but we can help heal it. At the end of this note are a few charities that cater to Native Americans. Please consider sharing some of your bounty with them.
As for me, I am grateful for so much this year, not the least of which is all of you. Thank you for the notes, the recipes!, the shared stories. They mean the world to me.
A blessed Thanksgiving, everyone.
From Wilbur Cross:
“Time out of mind at this turn of the seasons when the hardy oak leaves rustle in the wind and the frost gives a tang to the air and the dusk falls early and the friendly evenings lengthen under the heel of Orion, it has seemed good to our people to join together in praising the Creator and Preserver, who has brought us by a way that we did not know to the end of another year. In observance of this custom, I appoint Thursday, the twenty-sixth of November, as a day of Public Thanksgiving for the blessings that have been our common lot and have placed our beloved State with the favored regions of earth — for all the creature comforts: the yield of the soil that has fed us and the richer yield from labor of every kind that has sustained our lives — and for all those things, as dear as breath to the body, that quicken man’s faith in his manhood, that nourish and strengthen his spirit to do the great work still before him: for the brotherly word and act; for honor held above price; for steadfast courage and zeal in the long, long search after truth; for liberty and for justice freely granted by each to his fellow and so as freely enjoyed; and for the crowning glory and mercy of peace upon our land; — that we may humbly take heart of these blessings as we gather once again with solemn and festive rites to keep our Harvest Home.”
Some Native American charities to consider:
For an obvious prompt, list all for which you are grateful. If any of your list includes people, send them a note of gratitude. If it includes intangibles, read it at your Thanksgiving table, and/or send it to me.