Our View: Giving thanks and reaching out | SteamboatToday.com

Our View: Giving thanks and reaching out

— This Thanksgiving Day comes at a challenging time for many American families. A failing economy has cost many workers their jobs, and many more will struggle in the coming year simply to make ends meet.

But despite the hardships that come our way, there is still much to be thankful for – friends, family, good health, a roof over our heads and a beautiful valley to call home, to name just a few.

We urge everyone to take a moment this week to reflect not only on the good things in their lives, but also on what we might do to help those whose struggles are greater than our own. Indeed, the history of Thanksgiving is rooted in men and women helping one another to overcome great obstacles for the sake of survival.

The earliest Thanksgiving holiday dates to the 16th century, when Spanish settlers celebrated their safe arrival in the New World with a giant feast and celebration. And the most well-known Thanksgiving took place in 1621, when Pilgrims and their American Indian neighbors gathered for a three-day feast to celebrate the European settlers’ first harvest in Plymouth, Mass. It was a harvest made successful only through the help of their native friends.

Thanksgiving celebrations were held intermittently during the ensuing decades. The Continental Congress and Gen. George Washington proclaimed a Thanksgiving Day in December 1777 to celebrate a military victory against the British. In 1789, President Washington declared the first Thanksgiving Day for all Americans to unite and give thanks to God for their good fortune.

Similar declarations were made periodically by presidents who followed Washington, but Thanksgiving Day wasn’t recognized as a national holiday until 1863, when President Abraham Lincoln signed a proclamation for a national Thanksgiving Day to be celebrated on the final Thursday of November. In 1941, Congress clarified that the holiday be recognized on the fourth Thursday of November.

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Throughout the years, Thanksgiving has become a holiday for which families and friends gather together in celebration of life, freedom, health, food and one another. It’s a special break in our daily routines to reunite with those we care about.

As we prepare to gather with loved ones Thursday, we should all take a few minutes from our days to give thanks for all we have and to ask what we might do for those who are less fortunate.

Donating to Routt County United Way’s annual fundraising campaign is an excellent way to help disadvantaged members of our community, as is giving food, money or spare clothes to LIFT-UP of Routt County.

Consider asking a neighbor or co-worker whether they have plans for Thanksgiving dinner; if not, add an extra place setting at your table and share your good fortune and family with someone who may be short on both.

If you find yourself alone this Thanksgiving, stop by the Steamboat Springs Community Center from 1 to 5 p.m. Thursday and take part in a fantastic holiday tradition – United Way’s free community dinner.

No matter how you spend your holiday, we wish you and your loved ones a happy Thanksgiving.