W

riting a newspaper column after 1 a.m. is never ideal, but on the flip side I have plenty for which I’m thankful.

It was the day after Thanksgiving a year ago that my wife and I made the trip to Beeville and I interviewed for The Progress’ editor post. I enjoyed my visit to South Texas and was thrilled when I had the opportunity to join the Beeville Publishing staff.

Fast forward a year, and there’s a reason I’m writing this column so late at night — or early in the morning, depending on your perspective.

My family and I are in the process of moving again, but this time we are moving into a house that we purchased in Three Rivers, and that is a huge blessing. 

It was with mixed emotions that we sold our home in Central Texas, and we’re thrilled to be moving into a house that we will hopefully continue to live in for decades.

Another reason for the late night is also a blessing, but it’s taken quite a while to get here. My wife has been sick for about two weeks with a respiratory illness, and my son and I got it, as well.

How is that a blessing? Well, we are finally on the mend, and that’s definitely something about which to be thankful.

Many Americans will celebrate Thanksgiving this week, and while there will be plenty of attention paid to lavish meals, football, Christmas shopping and family gatherings, I hope that people will stop and take the time to be thankful.

Our nation has enjoyed blessings that would have astounded the kings and emperors of centuries past, and we have truly been able to savor the grace of God’s bounty and goodness in our lives.

When I focus on Thanksgivings of the past, I remember the famous Thanksgiving celebration of 1621 in Plymouth, Massachusetts in which a hardy band of Pilgrims gave thanks for their survival, as well as for a bountiful harvest.

That colony was rocked by severe weather, sickness and death the previous winter, but the survivors were able to envision a bright future in the Lord’s grace.

The three-day feast included a visiting band of Wampanoag Indians who may have startled the Pilgrims at first. There were only 53 Pilgrims, but 90 Native Americans.

While the Pilgrims contributed various types of fowl — ducks, geese and probably turkey — the Indians brought venison to the feast.

As a young child in school, I enjoyed making Thanksgiving crafts, including Pilgrim hats and Indian headdresses, along with colorful cartoon-like turkeys.

That Plymouth Thanksgiving was not the first celebrated in North America. Jamestown, Virginia as well as other places to the south held Thanksgiving celebrations well before 1621.

One of those thanksgivings was celebrated in Texas in 1541, as Francisco Coronado led a band of Spanish explorers to Palo Duro Canyon in what is now the Texas Panhandle.

But it was those living in New England who made Thanksgiving an annual holiday which the rest of the country would eventually embrace.

During the American Revolution, General George Washington proclaimed a day of thanksgiving in 1777 after America’s victory over the British at Saratoga.

As president, Washington proclaimed a national day of Thanksgiving in 1789, when Congress requested it.

When Thomas Jefferson became president, he no longer recognized the Thanksgiving holiday, and it was up to individual states to decide whether they would celebrate it or not.

In 1861, Confederate President Jefferson Davis proclaimed a thanksgiving fast — far different than the feast days we are used to celebrating.

In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a Thanksgiving holiday for the last Thursday in November, and every year thereafter, the holiday has been celebrated annually in America.

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt moved Thanksgiving back a week in 1939 in hopes to boosting the economy and giving people an extra week to Christmas shop. That change wasn’t well received, and Congress officially made Thanksgiving the fourth Thursday on November starting in 1941.

Some of the most emotional Thanksgiving celebrations have almost certainly been during times of war, as America’s military spends time away from families in what must be bittersweet.

One Thanksgiving during wartime was celebrated in 2005 in Iraq, and according to published reports, Chief Warrant Officer Matt Cole, a Black Hawk helicopter pilot, wasn’t much in the mood to celebrate.

Cole told his fellow soldiers that he would skip the festivities and stay with the helicopter reading a book. 

His co-pilot talked him into participating, saying, “I’m asking you as a friend: Please come eat Thanksgiving dinner with me.”

Reluctantly, but not wanting to let his friend down, Cole left the helicopter and had just sat down to his Thanksgiving meal when a pair of rockets struck in the distance.

The helicopter that Cole had been in moments earlier was hit, and because Cole wasn’t in it, he was spared serious injury or even death, giving him a reason to be very thankful.

No matter what your situation this year, you most likely have something — and perhaps many things — for which to be thankful. Don’t take it for granted; you appreciate things so much more when you take the time for thanksgiving.

Jeff Osborne is the editor of The Progress. A Texan since 1973, he has worked for Texas newspapers for 25 years.