As we draw nearer to Thanksgiving, I am reminded of this holiday’s origins and significance. There are some interesting and noteworthy parallels with today’s world, two years after Covid-19 began.
While Thanksgiving has only been a national holiday since it was established in 1863 by President Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War, America’s “first Thanksgiving” was celebrated in 1621.
This first Thanksgiving paid tribute to the gratitude and hope that resulted from new friendships between the Wampanoag Native Peoples and Plymouth Colonists in the face of extreme isolation and struggle. This friendship endured for more than 50 years.
President Lincoln saw an opportunity to help unite and console a deeply divided nation; it was at the height of the Civil War that he established the holiday and called upon Americans to ask God to “commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife…and to heal the wounds of the nation.”
Our nation is deeply wounded from the ravages of the Covid-19 pandemic: isolation, struggle, disease, death, economic loss to name a few. There is so much that we can’t control, but we can all find something to be thankful for.
I hope that you will join me in reaching out to an isolated friend, family member, co-worker or neighbor this holiday season. Sometimes a simple phone call, text or chat over the fence can make a person feel connected and cared for.
Mike Wasserman represents District 1, which includes South County, on the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors. This column was originally published in the Nov. 17 “Update from Mike” newsletter.