The Real Truth of Thanksgiving

Turkey
Creative Commons License photo credit: oldbilluk

Here’s one for the history books. Actually, I’m surprised it isn’t already in the history books since most of all textbooks are published in Texas. I’m also surprised this little tidbits haven’t been conscripted by the Texas governor-running-for-Republican-presidential-nomination, given there was even a debate Thanksgiving week! Maybe he had a brain lapse.

The earliest known “thanksgiving” was in Texas!

Native peoples, Europeans, and many other cultures have long held feasts to offer thanks for harvests, survival, and whatever else was deemed appropriate. As Americans, we are taught that our Thanksgiving has its origins in the Plymouth settlers and Wampanoag people celebrating a successful harvest by feasting together in 1621. And maybe our modern-day Thanksgiving has its origins in that event. But there were thanksgiving celebrations long before then.

By the 16th century, England, France, Spain, and the Netherlands had all launched major colonization efforts in North America. The Vikings may have been here as early as the 1100s. In 1541 the Spanish explorer Francisco Vásquez de Coronado and his troops celebrated thanksgiving while searching for gold in the New World in what is now the Texas Panhandle!

Have you been to the Texas Panhandle? All I can say is that Coronado and his troops must have been thankful for their survival because they didn’t find gold and I can’t imagine them being thankful for the terrain! It’s flat, barren (except for tumbleweeds), and windy.

There you have it. The first thanksgiving was actually in Texas.

Other than facts for the history books, in the eternal scheme of things does it matter how we came to have Thanksgiving? While it’s certainly nice to have a holiday (at least those not in retail get a holiday), what’s ultimately important is that we stop to give thanks and seek to cultivate a spirit of gratitude for all things big and small in our lives.

Thanksgiving bonus: Here are two of my favorite gratitude quotes to inspire you this Thanksgiving season.

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. ~ John F. Kennedy

At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us. ~ Albert Schweitzer

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