Fricke column: We should cherish our Thanksgivings | PostIndependent.com

Fricke column: We should cherish our Thanksgivings

Randy Fricke

Today, I would like us all to start thinking about Thanksgiving early this year. Maybe some of you are. Thanksgiving Day in America will be celebrated on Nov. 23. I am providing a brief history lesson on America’s Thanksgiving tradition.

Thanksgiving Day was made an official national holiday by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863. Thanksgiving Day was designated to be a national holiday on the final Thursday in November. Prior to that time, days of thanksgiving were celebrated sporadically after President George Washington’s first Thanksgiving proclamation in 1789. Franklin Roosevelt moved it up a week in 1939 an effort to boost holiday sales during the Depression.

Some of the first documented Thanksgiving services were conducted by Spaniards and the French in the 16th century in North America. Thanksgiving services were routine events in the Commonwealth of Virginia as early as 1607.

The most historically recognized “First Thanksgiving” was held in 1621 by the Pilgrims at the Plymouth Plantation in Massachusetts. It was here that the Pilgrims held a harvest feast after a successful crop-growing season.

The history of this “First Thanksgiving” also had on-the-scene accounts of the first celebration. According to Edward Winslow, 90 Native Americans and 53 Pilgrims celebrated the first harvest festival together known as Thanksgiving.

The Pilgrims who occupied Plymouth were known as Separatists or English Dissenters. They came to America seeking religious freedom from the Church of England. This ends the history lesson.

Some days I want to be a reinvented Pilgrim or Separatist ready to break away from the establishment. OK, I’ve already done that. Maybe it’s the Native American in me.

We all could use some cheering up after a year filled with shooting tragedies, hurricanes and wildfires. We all need a break from America’s drama capital, Washington, D.C. We need a break from America’s political nightmare that inhabits the White House, where it’s Halloween every day. The American people need a real break — free health care and livable wages. This is not too much to ask a Congress that wastes billions of taxpayer dollars each year on never-ending wars.

The homeless veterans and the homeless need a break. Latino immigrants need a break, too. Let them stay.

I hope that I speak for many when I am thankful for all of the contributions, food, clothing and shelter given to the several million hurricane victims in Houston, Florida and Puerto Rico. Thousands of Americans came to the rescue with fundraising, supplies and countless volunteers for these storm victims. One of my favorite NFL players, J.J. Watt, defensive end with the Houston Texans, raised $37 million to help families in the Houston area. His initial goal was $200,000. A big high-five to all of those Americans who donated.

I hope to see this spirit of giving by all Americans extend into this holiday season, particularly this Thanksgiving. We need a Thanksgiving season that lasts the whole month of November. I find it disturbing that the overcommercialized Christmas holiday shopping season almost blocks out the Thanksgiving holiday. Don’t let Christmas shopping take away the true meaning of Thanksgiving.

I am thankful for this beautiful area where we all live. I am thankful for all of the wonderful people who live and work in our valleys. I am thankful for all of the great people in our area who volunteer to help people in need, especially this time of year. We can all be thankful that bridgemaggedon in Glenwood Springs will soon be over.

I love the Thanksgiving holiday. Thanksgiving was always a strong tradition in my family since I can remember. It wasn’t just about the turkey and football, but it was also about celebrating this holiday with family and friends. This usually included going to Grandma’s house on Thanksgiving Day. I can still smell the cooking smells of turkey and pumpkin pie floating outside her house. I cherish those old Thanksgiving memories.

The Thanksgiving holiday tradition still runs strong with my family today here in western Colorado. We need to keep the Thanksgiving tradition strong in America.

I am thankful for the Post Independent so I can wish you all a happy Thanksgiving holiday season.

Randy Fricke lives in New Castle and is an environmental advocate and a political activist. He is the author of “If I Were President/Saving Main Street America.”