According to an account recently published by one of your 21st century writers, Mark Skousen, I had, on one occasion, personally taken pen to paper and attempted to enlighten my fellow colonials on the remarkable achievement of one lone farmer who managed, by dint of his courage and no-nonsense analysis of the situation, to turn things around and transform the day from yet another gloom and doom “pity party” (as you moderns like to say) to something a bit more positive and uplifting. Here’s basically what I had to say, re-written and re-interpreted somewhat to be more understandable in your language of today:
“The first settlers in New England faced many hardships and brutal winters as they struggled to survive and establish themselves. They developed a tradition of setting aside many days of fasting and prayer, praying to God to take care of their many lacks and woes. You see, being so inclined (as those Puritanical New Englanders were) to such public displays of religious devotion, they asked for relief from heaven by telling God what their specific wants and distresses were through the establishment of a large number of days of fasting and prayer. Of course, the constant meditation and conversation on these subjects naturally kept their minds rather gloomy and depressed.”
“At a public gathering that was called to proclaim yet another fast, a farmer ‘of common sense’ stood up and suggested that instead of 'wearying heaven with their complaints,' the settlers should instead proclaim a thanks-giving and offer gratitude for the many blessings they’d already received – such as the rivers full of fish, the sweet air, the healthy climate, and, above all – the gift of civil and religious freedom. Focusing on gratitude, the farmer observed, would help them feel better and would lead to greater happiness. The people assembled took his advice, and every year since, Thanksgiving has been celebrated with a more positive and appreciative perspective.”
“Furthermore, I should mention, to put things in proper context, that I did see articles published in the newspapers of the various colonies detailing their frequent complaints about hard times, dwindling trade, scarcity of money, etc. It was not my intent to declare that these complaints are not valid or true; there can be no country or nation existing in which there will not be some people experiencing circumstances in which it is hard to gain a livelihood, or make a profit from buying and selling, or perhaps some who feel that money is scarce because they have nothing to give in return for it. And it is always in the power of a small number to make a big ruckus about whatever supposed injustices or unfair setbacks are presently troubling them. But, instead of following their lead, let us take a cool view of the general state of our affairs, and perhaps our situation will appear to be less gloomy than we imagine.”
So, with these historic words in mind, I’d encourage you all to sit down at your Thanksgiving tables, lift up prayers for the people of Paris and other victims of terrorist violence around the world, and then give thanks for the blessings that we truly do enjoy (also meditating, meanwhile, on how we can distribute some of these blessings to others who are not so fortunate, particularly the refugees from war-torn areas), and approach this holiday with a positive air of caring and sharing.
Your humble servant,