By Brent Frazier, mayor 

City of Pelican Rapids 

So what are you thankful for this day, and every day?

This Thanksgiving holiday will be a lot more normal for most of us compared to the Thanksgiving holiday of 2020 when we were dealing with many lockdowns and restrictions due to the pandemic.

This is the day that we gather with family and friends for a meal and give thanks for our many blessings which have been bestowed upon us from God.

Although Thanksgiving has become an annual event, we need to pause and reflect each and every day to give praise and thanks to our God who has provided us with our multitude of blessings. 

Thanksgiving Day is a national holiday in the United States that originated in 1621 when the Plymouth colonists and the Native American Wampanoag Tribe shared an autumn harvest feast for the bounties of the preceding year. Historians estimated that there were approximately 50 colonists (22 men, 4 women and 25 children & teenagers) and more than 100 Native American guests present for this festive meal. 

As with most gatherings or celebrations, it is usually the serving of food that draws people together. 

As today’s Thanksgiving meal usually consists of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes & gravy, cranberry sauce, breads and pumpkin pie, the menu of the first Thanksgiving Day meal was somewhat different than our meal of today.

Although not all of the following foods were probably served at the first Thanksgiving Day meal, in the years that followed these foods were very common; fish, shellfish, mussels, lobster, bass, clams, oysters, venison, wild turkey, beans, onions, lettuce, spinach, cabbage, carrots, peas, corn mush, blueberries, plums, grapes, gooseberries, raspberries and cranberries. 

“Day of Thanks” roots date to founding fathers 

On October 3, 1789, President George Washington issued a proclamation designating Thursday, November 26 as a national day of thanks. In this proclamation, President Washington declared that the necessity for such a day resulted from the Almighty’s care for Americans prior to the Revolution, assistance to them in achieving independence and in helping in establishing the constitutional government. 

A portion of this transcript states;….”to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God….”

For more than two centuries, days of thanksgiving were celebrated by states and individual colonies. Then in 1863, during the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day holiday for the last Thursday in November. 

Thanksgiving Day was motivated by economics during Great Depression 

On October 31, 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a presidential proclamation changing the holiday from the last Thursday in November to the next to last Thursday in November for business reasons. President Roosevelt thought an early Thanksgiving Day would give merchants a longer time period to sell their goods before Christmas and thus help bring the country out of the Great Depression. 

On December 26, 1941, President Roosevelt signed a joint resolution of Congress changing the national Thanksgiving Day to the fourth Thursday in November.

As a nation, we have so very much of which to be thankful. The poorest people who live in the United States are considered rich in comparison to some peoples in other countries, but we know that an abundance of material goods does not define being rich, successful or happy.

As we associate with others, many a time a person’s happiness and thankfulness can be noticed in how they “carry themselves” in public and their association with others. 

We can all probably agree that some of the people with the least in material possessions are the most happy and thankful people that we will ever meet. 

Think back to the Native Americans and early colonists at the first Thanksgiving Day celebration. None of them were rich in worldly possessions, but they were rich in the human qualities that ultimately define a person.

These are the human qualities of; happiness, contentment, creativeness, passion, leadership, commitment, skillfulness, disciplined, will power, courageous and thankfulness.

Plenty to be thankful for in Pelican Rapids 

Here in Pelican Rapids, we have so very much of which to be thankful.

We are not divided by economics, age, culture or religion. Although many of us have different customs and belief systems, we all respect one another and their customs and beliefs.  

We live in a small community of so many wonderful people. We are people who are concerned and caring for the needs of our neighbors, family and friends. 

We are a community in which people lend a helping hand to others when a need arises. 

We are a community where people actually look each other in the eye and say “hello” to a stranger. 

Yes, we all have so very much to be thankful for on this Thanksgiving Day and every day. 

So as we give thanks and count our blessings this day, let us all say “Happy Thanksgiving.”