Thanksgiving is easily my favorite holiday of the year. It’s a uniquely American experience and one of the few things we still get right when it comes to holidays; there’s nothing commercial about it – just family and friends and lots of food (the day after is something else entirely – don’t get me started on how I feel about Black Friday). For me, it’s a bit of strange time as half of my friends are on the other side of the pond and it’s just another working day for them while we’re all rolling around like pigs at the trough. One of my fondest memories was a time when I was stranded in England over the Thanksgiving holiday – I had to reschedule a flight and nothing was available until after the holiday. My British friends pitched in and scrounged up some turkey, cranberries, and stuffing for me while we chatted about all the different holiday traditions we each have. It was great fun and remains the only time I’ve ever had Thanksgiving dinner with a good English ale to wash it down.
Sadly, like everything else, the history of the holiday has been almost completely lost. I’m currently reading Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community and War by Nathanial Philbrick. It’s a fascinating, highly detailed account of the founding of the Plymouth colony and its aftermath. The fact that the first settlers survived at all is nothing short of miraculous, owing as much to the resourcefulness of their leaders (William Bradford, the first governor of Plymouth, was one of my direct ancestors on my grandmother’s side) as to the reluctant trust they formed with Massasoit and the Pokanoket Indians (my father’s side is Native American, so I get to enjoy both sides of the celebration, the giving and the receiving, as it were). It is a great shame that everyone remembers Squanto, the former British slave who taught the newcomers how to survive in the new world and also acted as their primary interface with the surrounding tribes, who, although deserving of a great deal of credit, mostly schemed and plotted to enrich himself at the settler’s expense, while Massasoit goes largely unheralded despite being the primary force behind a 50-year peace between the English and the natives. This was brought into sharp relief for me when, driving through the Chicago suburb where my oldest daughter lives with my ex-wife, I pointed out the street named after the Great Sachem and asked her who he was. She had no idea despite two days of Thanksgiving studies in her third-grade class. Sigh – and she goes to a private school!
In any event, Thanksgiving is indeed a time to be thankful for all of our blessings. I’m thankful for my family, all of my friends around the world, my team at BinaryWave, our customers and partners, my fellow SharePoint MVP’s, and the entire SharePoint community (without which this blog would simply be a bunch of notes to myself). I’m also thankful that a simple hillbilly from Texas has the opportunity to travel the world and meet great people everywhere I go. So Happy Thanksgiving to you all – even if you don’t have a Thanksgiving where you come from – and may we all be thankful for the good things in life.