Thursday, November 25, 2010

A countryman's wisdom -- traditions of Thanksgiving, by Hal Borland

"The Traditions," excerpted from the book: "Twelve Moons of the Year," by Hal Borland / copyright, 1979, Alfred A. Knopf, New York.

By Hal Borland"This is the traditional day to give thanks. Traditions, of course, are based on customs and beliefs transmitted from generation to generation. Those we observe at Thanksgiving are mostly rural -- the bountiful harvest, the gathered family, the roasted turkey, the feast, the thankful prayer. And all with the generous land close about, a world of fields made fruitful by calloused hands. The thanks were for health and strength and independence.

"Looking back now, in a land whose people are largely urban, the day may seem to have only token meaning. And yet, in it's origins the word 'thank' meant 'think' and surely one day out of the year is not too much to think back and remember. The day of thanks goes back to a little band of immigrants fighting a strange wilderness, painfully getting a foothold there. They had little enough to be thankful for, yet they were grateful for survival and hoped for better days beyond the winter that was closing in. They had faith and belief and even dreams, though those dreams could not encompass what has come after them.

"Thanksgiving is more than a feast. It always was. It is the recognition of the providence, the work, the hope and dreams that are in our very blood and being. It is thanks for the traditions themselves.

"So the traditions are as important as the thanks themselves. The symbols are not without meaning, for they rest on the land's own bounty, on work and achievement, on obligations as well as rights. Nobody has outmoded harvest, or plenty, or gratitude."


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