Week in Review: Week 47

Reading Time: 3 minutes
The sun rises from the south-southeast on a snow-coated field on Thanksgiving Day, 2022, in North Hero, Vermont. Offered under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0.

This was Thanksgiving week here in the United States. Americans have dabbled with thanksgiving feasts since our earliest settlements, but our national holiday dates to 1863. Shortly after the victory at Gettysburg during the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln declared a national day of thanksgiving to God on the last Thursday of that November.

But the declaration itself sounds more like a day of atonement and mourning than of thanksgiving:

Text of Lincoln’s 1863 proclamation. (National Park Service.)

I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, …to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving… And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him …, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.

— Abraham Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Proclamation

Today, in these times of conflict and mourning, we again yearn for that peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.

Modern Thanksgivings are comic tragedies of tension, travel, parades, and commercialism. We put up with all this to focus on food and family.

It’s time to bring faith back into the Thanksgiving recipe, as Lincoln called on us to do nearly eight score years ago.

Behind the scenes …

In addition to celebrating Thanksgiving with family, I continued my research on how Marc Chavannes met Alfred Fielding on the road to Bubble Wrap. Those details will appear in a series of posts in the next couple of weeks.

I devoted most of my work time this week to editing a short book by an artist friend about her grant-supported project teaching pandemic portraiture classes. This afternoon we caught a show of her works, including some that were in the book. I’ll try to share more information about that project in the next weeks as well.

The two posts that did appear this week were scheduled in advance. The Mayflower Compact appeared on the anniversary of that key document, the first time settlers to the New World agreed to form a “body politic” for the common good. Modern historians disagree about the stories of “the first Thanksgiving.” Many criticize the settlers of 1621 and their descendants for their treatment of native peoples. And of course many other refugees from Europe had settled in North America before them.

But none were faced with the prospect of governing themselves. Previous colonists came under the rules of sponsoring governments or companies. Unsure of their location, far from their chartered lands, these people had to figure it out for themselves. We’ve been doing that ever since.

“Time to Move On,” an excerpt from my journal entries of 44 years earlier, piqued more curiosity of writers and personal friends. It marked the day that I decided I had to move from my family homestead to venture out on my own as a freelancer. I didn’t realize at the time that I could both freelance to pay the bills and be a creative writer.

As someone once quipped: The most important resource a writer can have is a supportive spouse with a full-time job. Unfortunately, in my bachelor days all I had was a dictionary and a typewriter.

This young couple shops for their first Thanksgiving dinner together. November 21, 2022, Newtown, Connecticut. By Howard Fielding. Offered under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0.
This young couple shops for their first Thanksgiving dinner together. November 21, 2022, Newtown, Connecticut. By Howard Fielding. Offered under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0.

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