Random Thoughts

Just Checking In

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I hope each of you are well at the time of you reading this.  I haven’t written for two weeks, but I am well.  It has just been a busy time, and my Bible study blogs take four to six hours (or more) to write.

We in the United States have just concluded our Thanksgiving holiday celebration Thursday of this past week on November 26.  It is an odd celebration, as holidays go, in which the emphasis in modern times is on family, friends and food.  That part is great – except in this year of the coronavirus.  My wife and I elected not to celebrate with family for safety reasons, so we had a quiet dinner at home.  That’s not the odd part, though.

As with many holidays, the roots are based on semi-facts.  For Thanksgiving, the premise is that early settlers from Europe tried to establish a place to live in the mid-Atlantic part of the East Coast of North America at a place called Plimouth (now present-day Plymouth, Massachusetts).  That first year, they were starving as their crops and animals didn’t yield enough for sustaining the settlement. According to legend, then, a local tribe of the native Americans showed the colonists how to live off the land, and they hosted a feast with the colonists that kept them from starving to death.  This was the first Thanksgiving of our lore.

For information about the “real” Thanksgiving, one can check out an article in The Smithsonian (https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/thanksgiving-myth-and-what-we-should-be-teaching-kids-180973655/).

By way of information, the native Americans (now referred to as Indigenous People or First Nation) were formerly called “Indians” as the early explorers were looking for a passage to India and its rich treasure of spices and other trade.  The explorers, thinking they had reached India, just called all the natives “Indians” without recognizing the rich diversity of culture and the existence of different tribes and indigenous nations.  The settling of the North American continent by those from other nations was the beginning of the end of the Indigenous People due to disease, wars and killings.  Thanksgiving is a day of painful cultural memories for the Indigenous Peoples, which is why some people in North America also observe Indigenous Peoples Day the day after Thanksgiving.

Most of the readers of this blog are preparing for and anticipating the coming holiday season as various world cultures anticipate the arrival of Christmas (Christians and related groups), Chanukkah or Hanukkah (Jews and related groups) or Kwanzaa (a celebration of unity and service – to simplify it – by African-Americans in the United States).  For Muslims, their big celebration is Eid al-Fitr, the festival for the breaking of the fast of Ramadan.  However, that doesn’t occur until about June, or the ninth month of the Muslim calendar.  Chinese celebrate the Winter Solstice in December, and the Hindus and others from India have already observed Diwali, the “Festival of Lights,” in November.

But lest I digress, I hope that, whatever you celebrate, you will be able to find ways to enjoy the time safely for yourselves and others.  It may not be a celebration in the manner to which you are accustomed, but sometimes (to use an American saying) we have to pull on our adult “big-boy pants” or “big-girl pants/dresses” (depending on your culture) and just do what’s best for others and ourselves.  Keeping distant, wearing a mask and washing hands is not the government meddling in your freedom or someone telling you what to do.  Instead, it is people trying to take care of one another and doing what is best for OTHERS while you are doing what is needed to protect yourself.  To do so would be to observe the spirit of the holiday celebration you choose to observe.

Have a wonderful – and safe – week!

John M

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