I thought it was appropriate at this time to talk about a past time I grew up celebrating - Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving (celebrated on the last Thursday in November across the US) is also observed in Canada, Brazil, Grenada, Korea, Saint Lucia, Japan, Liberia, Germany and the sub-national entities of Leiden, Puerto Rico and our own Norfolk Island.
This national holiday is believed to have first started in Canada and can be traced back to around 1578 when explorer Martin Frobisher held a Thanksgiving celebration for surviving his journey from England.
However, it is further thought that the first Thanksgiving celebrations in Canada can be traced to French settlers who arrived in New France in the 1600s when explorer Samuel de Champlain, celebrated successful harvests with large feasts of thanks with the Indigenous people of the area.
In the US, Thanksgiving was held at Plymouth, Massachusetts, when the Pilgrims arrived on the Mayflower.
The Wampanoag Indians taught them how to cultivate the land.
These Native Americans were invited to the first Thanksgiving in 1621, with a feast that was prompted by a good harvest by the Pilgrims and Puritans.
This year, although many have experienced great hardship and despair due to the bushfires and COVID, we have many things to be thankful for and, at this time, we should celebrate because Thanksgiving represents a positive time where we celebrate gratitude, something that we don't do enough of these days.
Dr Diana Raab, an award-winning author/poet, reflects on Thanksgiving as a sense of interconnectedness among people and cultures.
In these trying times, we all need a Thanksgiving Day more than ever.
Thanksgiving can be a holiday that is just right for gathering with loved ones and expressing gratitude for our blessings and, hopefully, good health.
Thanksgiving can also be a reminder to appreciate all that's joyful in one's life, which includes family, friends, and colleagues and fortunately here in Australia our wonderful lifestyle and overall good fortunes as a country.
Thanksgiving can be a holiday that focuses on all things positive and free of materialistic rationales.
With all that has happened on our tiny planet, with the instability, fear, and uncertainty that many of us feel, there is no better time than a Thanksgiving Day to simply stop the world for a short time and give thanks for all that is good and positive.
It is important that we remind ourselves to try to incorporate gratitude into the fabric of life while remembering even if it appears as if we've hit rock bottom, there is always hope we'll come out on the other side.
In a previous article, I talked about the benefits of writing to reduce stress and anxiety. Thanksgiving is always a good time to write down all those things you are thankful for. If you are gathering with friends/family, maybe that may be a good time to share those thoughts with others and they can do the same. For example, we can be thankful for our health, family, friends, wonderful country, teachers, your home, pets, food, your car, doctors and even your counsellor.
As I mentioned at the beginning of the article, Norfolk Island celebrates Thanksgiving. The short story goes, American whaling ships would make frequent stops to the island during the late 1800s. They brought with them American style recipes like pumpkin pie and cornbread.
In 1887, American whaling trader, Isaac Robinson, who settled on the island and later became US consul, wanted to celebrate Thanksgiving and therefore established the traditional holiday.
Upon his death in 1912 at age 87, the islanders kept up the practice, and it is now a three-day celebration called Taste Norfolk Island Food Festival, with Thanksgiving Day celebrated on the last Wednesday of November.
The following Thanksgiving poem is written by Joanna Fuchs who is a poetry, fiction and nonfiction writer, as well as a website writer and publisher for poemsource.com.
"Thanksgiving is the appointed time for focusing on the good in our lives. In each of our days, we can find small blessings, but too often we overlook them, choosing instead to spend our time paying attention to problems. We give our energy to those who cause us trouble instead of those who bring peace. Starting now, let's be on the lookout for the bits of pleasure in each hour, and appreciate the people who bring love and light to everyone who is blessed to know them. You are one of those people. On Thanksgiving, I'm thankful for you."
This year invite someone who may be struggling to a 'Thanksgiving' meal to help them celebrate its positive and secular meaning of gratitude.
Or maybe it's time all of Australia follows suit and we celebrate Thanksgiving as a national holiday along with our little sister island?