Today I am celebrating Thanksgiving and expressing gratitude for the blessings that I have in my life.
Despite the stories, the myths, and the controversies that surround this holiday and what it represents to many people, I pause to reflect on the people who participated in what we refer to as the first thanksgiving which was more than likely a simple harvest feast. I think of the hardships my Pilgrim ancestors faced, arriving in a strange land in the fall of the year with only what they were able bring with them on the Mayflower and few provisions. Half of the ship’s passengers did not survive that harsh winter. I can’t begin to imaged what it must have been like or what it took to endure it. I also think about the hardships endured by many other ancestors since that time. As I reflect on my ancestors and their trials, I have a greater appreciation for what I have.
In the course of tracing my ancestry, I have come across many amazing stories and contributions to history. For the most part I’m proud of my heritage. However, I’ve learned not to judge my ancestors. They were not perfect. They were doing the best they could with what they had. Looking back at history, we can see that they made mistakes along with their triumphs just like when our descendants a century from now will look back our our lives and see our mistakes and our triumphs.
It does us nor our descendants any good to sugar-coat our history or to make it politically correct to suit our current sensibilities. We need to take history for what it is, even if it’s uncomfortable, and to learn from it so that we may try to be more enlightened than they were, hopefully to make a better world for those who follow in our footsteps. I firmly believe that it is the responsibility of each succeeding generations to be more knowledgeable, a bit wiser, a bit more enlightened than the generation that preceded them. I have hope that my children and my grandchildren will be wiser and more enlightened than I am. I hope that they learn from both my successes and my failures. I hope they will see where I have erred and strive to do better. This is what I have strived to do in my life.