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A time to be thankful, a time to reflect

Mountain City residents celebrate Thanksgiving with a meal at last year’s Danny Herman Trucking Community Thanksgiving Meal. Things will be a little different this year thanks to the CDC’s guidelines encouraging all to host small dinner gatherings with close family only or, outdoor events. Submitted photo.

By Veronica Burniston
Freelance Writer

Today most Americans celebrate Thanksgiving in a home overflowing with family and a table brimming with delicious food from turkey to mashed potatoes and gravy to green bean casserole and a warm slice of pumpkin pie. Although the holiday has become more commercialized over the years, the shared meal with friends and family still stirs reason to rejoice and be thankful for the blessings received throughout the year.

The origin of Thanksgiving Day reaches back to the year 1620 when the Pilgrims fled religious persecution in England. Aboard the Mayflower, the Pilgrims set sail from Plymouth, England, and, after three months at sea, landed in what is now Plymouth, Massachusetts. The Pilgrim’s first winter in the land was treacherous, leaving many malnourished and nearly half of them dead. With the help of local Native Americans like Squanto of the Pawtuxet tribe and the neighboring Wampanoag tribe, the Pilgrims learned how to cultivate corn, catch fish in the nearby rivers, and better thrive in their new landscape.

The harvest of 1621 was pleasantly successful. In celebration, Governor William Bradford declared a three-day feast. The Pilgrims invited their new Native American friends, the Wampanoag, and thus began one of the first recorded thanksgiving celebrations in America.Thanksgiving Day was not officially declared a national holiday until deep into the Civil War.Sarah Josepha Hale, author of “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” led a campaign for 36 years to proclaim Thanksgiving a national holiday. She eventually gained the ear of President Abraham Lincoln, and in 1863 he established the last Thursday of November as Thanksgiving Day.

For many Americans, the gathering of loved ones is the highlight of the Thanksgiving meal. However, in light of COVID and social distancing, what can be done to celebrate a safe yet joyous meal with family and friends?The CDC insists on small dinner gatherings with close family only or, if need be, outdoor dinners if more people are to attend the meal. Another suggestion is sharing recipes and having a virtual dinner with family and friends.

In the end, families must make decisions based on what is best for their circumstances. If a family member does not feel well, he or she should not attend the gathering. If someone is more susceptible due to pre-existing health conditions or age, perhaps he or she should also refrain from attending the get-together.

For more CDC recommendations, visit If interested in learning more about the origins of Thanksgiving, visit