Thanksgiving is a special time for Americans. Most of us have the day off. In fact, most of us enjoy a four day weekend. Therefore, many make their way “home,” wherever that is, and however far away from it they may have found themselves. Most of us gather in our living rooms and around the dining room table for a feast of family, food and football. And for a rapidly dwindling- but still significant- percentage of us…faith.
To be sure, cultures around the world, and since time immemorial, have felt the need to express their gratitude for the good things in their lives, for the blessings they’ve received. Canada, the Netherlands, Japan- and several other nations- have a day set aside for similar observation and reflection.
This is my third annual Thanksgiving Day post on this site, and I thought I would do something…say something… a little different this year. I am going to highlight another nation’s Thanksgiving tradition.
Grenada is a small island in the Atlantic Ocean, in the West Indies to be precise. Their version of the holiday doesn’t have anything to do with celebrating the autumn harvest. In fact, they didn’t observe an official day of Thanksgiving until 1983, 362 years after the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Indians first got together at Plymouth, Massachusetts. Yet the island nation wouldn’t be celebrating a Thanksgiving if it weren’t for the United States. You see, on October 25th of each year, it holds formal ceremonies of remembrance in honor of the 1983 U.S. military invasion which saved civilian lives, restored order, and led to a return of parliamentary democracy. (Communist guerrillas had staged a coup in 1979, taking control of government and suspending the constitution, leading to four years of revolutionary rule. On October 12th, 1983, communist leader Maurice Bishop was imprisoned, throwing the country into chaos. American students, among others, were in dire peril- leading the U.S. to take action).
American soldiers who were stationed in Grenada in November told locals about their upcoming Thanksgiving holiday. They talked about the traditional feast and emphasized that the intent of the day was to focus on gratitude. Displaying their own gratitude, the people of Grenada worked secretly and hard, and surprised the soldiers with meals similar to those they yearned for, complete with turkey and fixings.
I don’t know how those who serve can do so anymore. To those in the military under orders not to fire unless fired upon- not a viable ‘strategy’ for staying alive let alone defeating the enemy- and to those police officers who are damned if they do and damned if they don’t in fighting crime, I say: “Thank you.”
And to all my readers around the world, whether you observe the day or not: Happy Thanksgiving!