Things to be thankful for in 2018

Nov 22, 2018

This edition arrives on Thanksgiving Day, a time traditionally set aside to give thanks for blessings and spend time with family.

Here in Midcoast Maine, we have many things to be thankful for, and we thought this week's editorial space an appropriate place to list a few.

First, we live in an area that offers a wonderful quality of life to many. We enjoy both the comforts of town and the wonders of nature -- the coast, the mountains, lakes and forests that provide for numerous outdoor activities.

Living in Maine has its challenges. We have a workforce shortage, a sometimes difficult economy, and more than our share of wet and inclement weather. However, Maine is largely a safe place. Crime is low, and we hope it remains so. We have been spared the worst of the hurricanes, tornadoes, floods dangerous spikes in heat and wildfires seen in other parts of the nation.

Many of our readers have likely been following in the national press stories of the refugees from the Camp fire in California that has consumed entire towns. The fires have destroyed more than 10,000 homes and the death toll was rising as we worked on this edition at the beginning of the week.

Survivors have told stories of harrowing ordeals, racing down highways with fires on both sides, trying to outrun the conflagration. Many who survived have been left with trauma, asking themselves if they could have done more for others who were not as fortunate. There have been many stories of heroes going above and beyond to help others in need.

A tent city has formed for those newly homeless in a Walmart parking lot in Chico, Calif., and the suffereing has been considerable.

As we consider enjoying this Thanksgiving holiday, many of us will pray for those in California and many will consider other ways to help.

We are fortunate to live in Midcoast, Maine, because our towns and cities have a sense of community. People know their neighbors and people rally around each other in times of need.

We are fortunate in our many volunteers. Consider those local Rotarians, Elks, Kiwanis, volunteers at Pen Bay Medical Center and Sussman House, those involved in United Midcoast Charities, The Knox County Homeless Coalition, New Hope for Women, Area Interfaith Outreach Food Pantry, Meals on Wheels, and countless other organizations. Volunteers are our local lifeblood. They are under-recognized and, as one volunteer retires, new helpers will need to step into those shoes.

We could go on mentioning various groups -- veterans, police, firefighters, EMS technicians, teachers, elected officials, business leaders -- but it all comes down to the same thing... we are thankful for the people who make up this community.

And each of us will likely give thanks this holiday for the people with us around the table, the people who matter most to each of us.

So, from our team to yours, Happy Thanksgiving.


History of Thanksgiving

We understand there has been debate over the years about what is myth and what is history concerning this holiday.

Most of us think of the first thanksgiving as the harvest meal in November 1621 shared in Plymouth, Mass., by the English Pilgrims and Wampanoag Indians, who arrived bearing the gift of venison. Wild turkeys were certainly consumed in that time period, but we have no historical documentation that they were eaten at that event.

BBC History Magazine reports, interestingly, that an earlier meal may be a contender for first Thanksgiving: On Sept. 8 1565, "following a religious service, Spaniards shared a communal meal with the local native tribe" in Florida.

The first federal Congress passed a resolution in 178, establishing Thanksgiving, which was set for Thursday, Nov. 26, that year.

Macy's Parade has been a Thanksgiving tradition since 1924, according to the BBC.

There is some question about when the tradition of the president pardoning a turkey began. According to the White House website, one story is that Abraham Lincoln’s "son Tad begged his father to write out a presidential pardon for the bird meant for the family’s Christmas table, arguing it had as much a right to live as anyone. Lincoln acquiesced and the turkey lived."

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