The Colonial roots of Thanksgiving are based on being thankful for being strangers in a strange land, struggling to make it all work, and the assistance given by the natives. The Colonists were bold and confident in many ways; two strong ingredients to have in a successful immigrant. Not everyone was on the same page, though. Certainly, there are some well-documented conflicts with the natives.
Over the years, Thanksgiving evolved with many new and differing ingredients: football (a uniquely American sport), family gatherings with relatives traveling to reunite, quite a bit of wine flowing, and sometimes some family drama. My home always has seats available for those with nowhere to go, and it’s a warm invite with no strings attached.
Today, we find ourselves, like our ancestors, as “the natives” in a land with immigrants continuing to arrive on our shores. They are largely people who are fleeing a less desirable place due to war, famine, or persecution, and are coming here because they believe in themselves and their work ethic and wish for a better life. Like the early Colonists, there are exceptions to that rule. Some of the Colonists were criminals fleeing persecution or prison. We have some flavors of that with a handful of current immigrants as well. The more things change, the more they are the same.
The original 13 Colonies were somewhat uniform. Most settlers were from the British Isles, most sought freedom to practice their religion of choice, and men outnumbered women. Minor differences were dictated by geography. Tobacco could be grown only in more southern climates, trading occurred heavier along the seacoasts, and northern climates had harsh winters to contend with. But in the global sense, they were pretty darn similar. Today, our nation is 50 states. The geographical differences are profound, as are differences in ethnicity, religion or lack thereof, education levels, and other measures.
I still love a good old New England getaway and seeing the stacked stone walls along country roads with barns. I was there again recently.
I also enjoy the other regions as well: the funky islands of the Florida Keys, charming Southern towns, the brown rolling hills of Napa Valley, the scenic beauty of the Pacific Northwest, the genuine nature of the Midwest, and breathtaking Alaska. I’ve enjoyed everywhere I’ve been in the USA — which now includes 40 states. I’ve met Native Americans, immigrants in New York City’s bustling streets and Times Square, mom-and-pop farmers, hipsters, and simple folks living on the land.
The more things change, the more they are the same. I love America. I love its history, I love its variety, I loved it growing up, and I love it today. Much of the happiness and satisfaction comes from the traveling I have done. Knowledge brings about many positive feelings, and travel always brings about knowledge.
I hope I can continue to share the desire and ideas on how and where to go. I am happy to be here and indeed thankful. Happy Thanksgiving! You, too, are blessed to be here.