Giving thanks

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(Host) Ruth Page finds much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving, from the admirable reaction of Americans during the horrors of 9-11, to the ceaseless work of scientists and re-searchers helping to protect earth’s environments.

(Page) Over the last few years, both magazine articles and pieces on the Internet have been correcting many of the features we were taught were essential parts of Thanksgiving back in 1621. It wasn’t the first, Yankee magazine says; the first was in 1607 in Phippsburg, Maine. And schools will have to make a few changes in the costumes the young kids wear for Thanksgiving plays. Pilgrims didn’t wear metal buckles on anything, including shoes. They had no forks, ate with their hands, and – one hopes – had sizable napkins or hunks of moss to get sticky bits of squash, venison, turkey, duck and so on off their fingers.

The pilgrims were outnumbered by their Indian friends: 90 Indians to 50 pilgrims. Most of the pilgrim women had died during the previous bitter winter, so the four survivors were helped by Indian women and by children. The feasting and games lasted at least three days. The only available drink was beer. All celebrated freely, as pilgrims were not Puritans, and didn’t feel guilty about rejoicing in their survival and hope for the future.

Now it’s 381 years later and we still celebrate, but not because we haven’t starved. The need to have a day each year when we all give thanks for many blessings is more profound than ever. Even the horror of 9/11 last year showed the blessing of Americans’ generous hearts through the outpouring of love, patriotism, money, and the very blood of our bodies, to help both rescuers and survivors. All of us are thankful for that.

My thanks this year also go to the many Americans who work in often unpleasant or dangerous places, trying to preserve our beloved country’s varied and often spectacular environments. Some devote their whole lives to saving as much of our earthly inheritance as possible: animal and plant, mountain and river. These saviors, in their devotion to the rich, natural environment, undergo dangers from snakebite, poisonous insects, deadly plants, frostbite, heatstroke, and criticism from those who don’t understand.

The longer I live, the more our careless devastation of our lovely country becomes apparent. I feel we can do no better than to give thanks for the students, scientists, and other environmental experts who devote so much of their lives to preserving our country’s wild bounty.

This is Ruth Page suggesting that in being thankful for our country’s beauty from sea to shining sea, we remember to thank those who work hardest to preserve it.

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