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updated: 11/22/2012 10:09 AM

Editorial: The essence and the evolution of Thanksgiving

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Daily Herald Editorial Board

Today is Thanksgiving, a day to count blessings, not to complain.

How this tradition enriches our lives, this annual giving of thanks, this counting of blessings.

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It is a wondrous day, one that is not threatened by stores that open or football games that are broadcast or the premieres of the holiday movie season.

Those are all pleasant things, and if you enjoy shopping or football or movies, well, go ahead and enjoy them without guilt or apology. Work them into your holiday tradition along with the cranberry and turkey. Why not?

There is a controversy this year about the so-called Black Friday Creep. Retailers are trying to get a jump on the Christmas selling season by pushing the Friday sales into Thursday.

Such wailing and gnashing of teeth over this, as though it were un-American or if not that, ungodly. Let's put things into perspective.

This development is not going to destroy Thanksgiving, merely alter it.

All the world is in perpetual motion. All of it. Schools aren't identical to how they were 50 years ago. Politics aren't. Mass media aren't. The structure of the family isn't. Nothing is the same. Everything evolves.

Why wouldn't holiday traditions evolve too? They would and they do.

The Pilgrims' Thanksgiving in 1621 consisted of a feast that lasted three days. Is Thanksgiving somehow not Thanksgiving anymore because most of us have boiled that down to one meal?

Later, the idea of Thanksgiving became a highly religious one. Yet, for some time now, many families carry on a primarily secular tradition but still one centered around the notion of giving thanks.

Things evolve, and elements like football and parades and, yes, shopping are part of that evolution. These things aren't necessarily good or bad. They just are.

Yes, if you enjoy them, enjoy them. Just also keep them in perspective. They are not the holiday, just part of the holiday treats.

When it gets down to it, the Norman Rockwell feast isn't the holiday either. It also is just part of the holiday treat.

The holiday itself -- Thanksgiving -- is a state of mind. A state of gratitude.

We give thanks this day for our blessings. It is a spiritual day even for those who might deny spirituality.

We count our blessings. We notice and appreciate that which is good in our lives. We don't waste the day on petty grievances and envies.

Today, after all, is Thanksgiving, a day to count blessings, not to complain.

That is the essence of the holiday. And it is that essence that enriches our lives.

Give thanks this day and see how good it makes you feel.

Then ask yourself: If this feels so good, why don't I give thanks every day?

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