My ancestors were at the first one in 1621. Teenagers Elizabeth Tilley and John Howland survived that first winter when her parents died along with many of the other Mayflower passengers. The new settlers had much to be grateful for and not the least of the gratitude was toward their neighbors, the Indians. The Indians taught the English how to survive. Apparently the locals forgave the English for plundering their food stores upon stepping off the Mayflower. They were pretty hungry by then. Maybe the first turkey day was a bit of payback. Elizabeth and John did well. They married and had ten children, thank you very much.
As for the first official Thanksgiving in 1863 my ancestors also had much to be thankful for then as well. That was the Civil War and President Lincoln declared a national day of thanksgiving.
Great-great grandparents David and Eleanor Morgan, natives of Kentucky who moved to Illinois, had two sons in military service, one on each side. There is no evidence that the family even heard about the presidential decree and celebrated, but I like to think that at some point they took time to think about their sons’ survival of the war.
For Thanksgiving 1945 my mother’s family was certainly thankful that her cousin had emerged from a Japanese prisoner of war camp, emaciated, but alive after nine months listed as missing.
In 1985 I was thankful for having a dining room table again. I still have it.
And this year there is much to be grateful for, love, family, health, prosperity, and the privilege to give some of it back.