The True Meaning of Thanksgiving

I love the Fall, the cooler weather, the vibrant colors and Thanksgiving, being grateful for our blessings, no presents, no expectations – just getting together with family and friends, gathering around a picturesque table, partaking in a splendid meal and feeling safe while sharing pleasant and personal conversation.

Thanksgiving is a day for caring, as personal connections are becoming rare with our mobile culture. People are becoming isolated, less connected and possibly less cared for, thus sharing basic human interaction is essential and what better time than Thanksgiving?

What comes to mind when you think of Thanksgiving? Do you picture a time of thankfulness toward God and/or your fellow man and woman—or is it merely one of eating, partying and watching football? This day was established for celebrating our blessings. We can not let its meaning slowly deteriorate under a cloud of media hype, sales pitches, marketing tactics and blitz commercialism. We must hold on to our human kinship. We can certainly enjoy all the surrounding festivities, but must keep true priorities in sync.

The Pilgrims could never have imagined America would become the global superpower it is today, where we enjoy the freedoms of religion and speech and welcome individuals and families to emigrate and enjoy these same liberties. We are the first country in support of others. So let’s support one another.

Speaking of Pilgrims…In 1621, on the first Thanksgiving in Plymouth, Massachusetts, do you think they and their Wampanoag Indian guests dined on turkey dinners, cranberries, candied yams, stuffing, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie like most Americans and Canadians do today? Their three-day harvest celebration included deer and wildfowl leaving most of today’s classic Thanksgiving dishes off the table.

Popular myths aside, potatoes—white or sweet—would not have been featured, and neither would sweet corn. Neither was bread stuffing though the Pilgrims may have used herbs or nuts to stuff birds. The table would have been loaded with native fruits like plums, melons, grapes and cranberries, plus local vegetables such as leeks, wild onions, beans, Jerusalem artichokes and squash. For the starring dishes, undoubtedly they included native birds and game as well as the Wampanoag gift of five deer, along with fish and shellfish.

Pilgrims roasted and boiled food. Can’t you imagine venison and whole wildfowl roasting on spits over hot glowing coals, while large brass pots of stews and vegetables were simmering in the household hearth?

In 1789 Federal Congress realized our nation should have a day of Thanksgiving and passed a resolution asking President George Washington to issue a proclamation naming Thursday, November 26, 1789 as a “Day of Publick Thanksgivin” – the first time Thanksgiving was celebrated under the new Constitution. In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln stated that Thanksgiving was to be regularly commemorated the last Thursday of November. In 1939, the last Thursday in November fell on the last day of the month. Concerned the shortened Christmas shopping season might dampen economic recovery; President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued a Proclamation moving Thanksgiving to the second to last Thursday of November. On October 6, 1941, the House passed a joint resolution and agreed to an amendment whereas President Roosevelt signed the resolution on December 26, 1941, establishing the fourth Thursday in November as the Federal Thanksgiving Day holiday. Thank goodness all that changing is over with.

As Thanksgiving Day approaches, consider the many wonderful blessings you enjoy. Be thankful, whether in prayer or in thought, be sincere in the same heartfelt manner that the Pilgrims and Indians shared on their first Thanksgiving in North America. Gather with family and friends to give thanks for our many, many blessings. Let’s all do our best to keep the true meaning of Thanksgiving, to enjoy each others company and to share with one another in gratitude.

By LuAnn Jalet

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JNR Incorporated is a results-based, globally recognized leader that specializes in creating custom incentive travel, meeting, event, prepaid card and merchandise programs that motivate, engage and inspire the employees, customers and channel members of our clients. We have over 30 years of experience working with Fortune 500 companies in many diverse industries. Our programs are tailored to fit the specific needs of marketing, sales, management and human resource professionals. The unique solutions we apply are measurable and proven to increase performance, loyalty and revenues.

To Shop or Not To Shop

Originally, and for hundreds of years, Thanksgiving was a day of celebration, of being thankful for our blessings and sharing with those we love.

Then, Thanksgiving became less traditional meaning turkey, family, football and a day off work.

Now, with “Black Friday”— and sometimes even “Black Thursday” — millions of American households consider Thanksgiving as a prelude to a shopping spree and are intent on rushing out to buy bargains for Christmas.

Black Friday used to be the extra dessert after Thanksgiving, a day to stretch our shopping muscles for Christmas. It was fun, productive and beneficial. But now some of us Americans believe retailers have crossed the line and shoppers have lost their minds, not to mention their manners.

For the last decade, retailers, keen to spur holiday spending, have moved the starting line forward for this consumer sport, luring shoppers to get up earlier and earlier on Black Friday or, in recent years, to leave their homes on Thanksgiving day itself by offering deals on limited supplies of high–visibility products such as must–have toys and the hottest consumer electronics. Grab your credit card, be the first in line, trample your fellow man and woman…get that deal!

Up to 150 million Americans visit stores on Black Thursday and Friday, with almost half this number saying they will definitely shop and the remaining 76 million say they will wait to see what merchants have on offer for the three full days after Thanksgiving. Billions of dollars will be spent.

While it is understandable that brick-and-mortar retailers have become very aggressive trying to reel in customers due to online competition, volatile consumer confidence, minimal margins resulting from continual markdowns and our inconsistent economy, the frenzy caused is absurd.

Gone are the days when shoppers pored over newspaper ads the day after Thanksgiving and then planned their fun trip to the Mall. Shopping now is more of an interactive game, in which consumers hunt and gather bargains forcing retailers to continually extend themselves and still make a profit. It’s all so exhausting.

The great game of holiday buying and selling added another dimension that took hold but is slowly reverting back. Employees are beginning to protest having to work on Thanksgiving. Americans are revisiting conversations about the real meaning of Thanksgiving, which previously had always been a traditionally important and restful holiday. Many of us have grown tired of watching people pushing, shoving and crushing each other on, or within 24 hours of Thanksgiving. Oh, the dichotomy of the human spirit.

The menacing Black Thursday turns off some Americans but no doubt there will be those who will line up early and rush in when the doors open on Thanksgiving evening. Those whose ancestors came over on the Mayflower, and still live in Plymouth, Massachusetts, are glad that Colonial-era blue laws prohibit retailers from plying their wares on Thanksgiving. They still know this holiday is about giving thanks for all we have.

However, most everywhere else in America, stores will fling open their door and move out of the way for their shoppers galore while letting commerce invade what used to be such an enjoyable and restful holiday.

So much for peace and quiet.

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JNR Incorporated is a results-based, globally recognized leader that specializes in creating custom incentive travel, meeting, event, prepaid card and merchandise programs that motivate, engage and inspire the employees, customers and channel members of our clients. We have over 30 years of experience working with Fortune 500 companies in many diverse industries. Our programs are tailored to fit the specific needs of marketing, sales, management and human resource professionals. The unique solutions we apply are measurable and proven to increase performance, loyalty and revenues.

JNR Spotlight: Veteran’s Day

I would not describe myself as someone that comes from a “military family.” My grandfathers on both my maternal and paternal side served in WWII and the Korean War but that is to be expected with that generation of men. I did not have parents in the military and I really was not in contact with anyone that was deployed overseas growing up.

A few months ago a family member started really digging in to our ancestry and in celebration of Veteran’s Day began posting family members and their service records on social media. At first it was what I expected, a great, great uncle, some cousins three times removed, great grandparents etc. But as the commemorative day of Veteran’s Day neared, the relatives being honored were not so distant. In fact, several people popped up that I actually see quite often and somehow forgot that they had dedicated years of their lives to our Armed Services. Several of my uncles are decorated Officers. A beloved aunt served in the US Women’s Army Corp- the branch of the Army arguably instrumental in opening the door to females serving alongside their male counterparts. My brother for goodness sake served in the Navy while I was out of the country studying at university! The list continued to grow longer and longer and I began to second guess my direct disconnection to Veterans.

Why does it take a bank holiday to remind us that so many people in our lives have devoted their time serving our country? We should celebrate these individuals all year long and not because it sounds good, but let’s really give them the reverie they deserve. Let’s not dismiss the fact that family members endured intense training in Basic or were placed on the front lines to protect our freedoms just because they are now living a civilian life. Undoubtedly these years are times that they will never forget, we certainly should not either.

This Veteran’s Day I will take a moment to celebrate and honor all Veterans that so bravely trained, fought, left their families, suffered unbearable losses and celebrated victories with brothers and sisters, not through blood, but through a bond that most of us will never truly understand. Let’s honor our Veterans not just today but on all days. Let’s not disrespect the time they committed selflessly to our country just because they do not talk about it.   Pay attention to those around you and the honor the sacrifices they have made that benefit our lifestyle everyday. Look around your workplace; notice those that frequent your favorite coffeehouse or restaurant. Talk to your children about what it means to be a Veteran and introduce them to all of the people around you that have been a part of our Armed Services. We are all from a “military family.” Our country is a “military family” and I ask that we all stop taking that for granted.

 

Connect with one of these organizations and see how you can help, not just today but throughout the year.

American Legion
Department of Veteran’s Affairs
Veterans of Foreign Wars
USO

  1. Say “Thank You”.
  2. Visit a wounded Veteran at the hospital.
  3. Offer your skills to a Veteran or military family.
  4. Volunteer your financial, legal or career expertise via MilServe
  5. Deliver a meal or care package to Veterans or homes with family members deployed overseas.
  6. Help a Veteran family member tell their story through a project such as the Veteran’s History
    You can download a VHP field kit from the Library of Congress website.
  7. Volunteer with an organization such as K9s For Warriors or Canine Companions for Independence, that provides therapy dogs to Veterans with PTSD.
  8. Offer a Vet a ride by volunteering with the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) organization, which provides free transportation to men and women unable to travel to VA medical facilities on their own.
  9. Visit serve.gov and use keyword “Veterans” to find more opportunities to serve our nation’s Veterans.
  10. Check these sites for many other simple ways to help our Veterans and show them you care and are thankful for their service.
    http://www.operationwearehere.com/IdeasforSoldiersCardsLetters.html
    http://www.cnn.com/2013/11/05/us/iyw-simple-ways-to-honor-veterans/

 

 

By JNR Incorporated

Written by Barbara Williamson

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JNR Incorporated is a results-based, globally recognized leader that specializes in creating custom incentive travel, meeting, event, prepaid card and merchandise programs that motivate, engage and inspire the employees, customers and channel members of our clients. We have over 30 years of experience working with Fortune 500 companies in many diverse industries. Our programs are tailored to fit the specific needs of marketing, sales, management and human resource professionals. The unique solutions we apply are measurable and proven to increase performance, loyalty and revenues.