Happy Thanksgiving!

Today is Thanksgiving Day, a national holiday.

There is no mail delivery and government offices, schools, and financial institutions are closed as are most businesses, although a few have Black Friday sales starting today.

     Many government offices will remain closed tomorrow as well. For the city of Chadron, tomorrow’s closures include the Handi-bus – which is also closed today, city hall and the library – which will be closed until Monday.

The Chadron Area Aquatics and Wellness Center is closed today but open tomorrow from noon-6:00.

     Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts, in his Thanksgiving message, says “Thanksgiving is a time for us to express gratitude to our Creator and to one another for the many blessings we have received.”

       He singles out for praise this year both healthcare workers and military servicemen and women – healthcare workers for being “on the front lines working long hours to help Nebraskans stay healthy during the pandemic,” and  the military for sacrifices that “keep our Republic free and allow us to enjoy the holidays in peace. 

         Ricketts used his Thanksgiving message to repeat his call for everyone to keep family gatherings small and to avoid crowded places, close contacts, and confined spaces to help slow the spread of COVID-19. 

The governor also offered a reminder to drive safely even if you’re just going across town today.

     The idea of setting aside a specific day to give thanks for life and its blessings dates back thousands of years through many civilizations, cultures and religions…but the American celebration started with the Pilgrims.

      The religious refugees who founded the Plymouth Colony in 1620 marked their first harvest a year later with a feast of Thanksgiving. The date was formalized by Abraham Lincoln in the Civil War as the last Thursday in November, with Congress later fine-tuning that to the 4th Thursday of the month.

   While turkey is the traditional main course of  a Thanksgiving dinner, Benjamin Franklin wanted to give it a more prestigious place in American history. He thought the turkey and not the bald eagle should be the national symbol.

     Humorist Stan Freberg offered a gentle jibe at the turkey-versus-eagle debate in his seminal 1961 album The United States of America, suggesting the eagle became the national symbol only because of a mistake at the first Thanksgiving.

In backing the turkey over the eagle as the nation’s symbol, Benjamin Franklin said the eagle was a thief and coward that represented centuries of European tyranny, while the turkey was smarter and braver than the eagle and had been a vital source of food for the early colonists.