November 24, 2021 | View PDF
In September 1620, the Mayflower set sail from Plymouth, England, bound for the New World. The ship’s 102 passengers and 30 crew members – an eclectic mix of religious families fleeing persecution and single men seeking to become landowners on a new continent – had one thing in common: They hoped that better lives were waiting for them at the other end of the sea.
Only half of the Pilgrims would live to see the spring. Those who did had a lot to be thankful for, so after a successful first harvest in the fall of 1621, they gathered to share a meal with the local Native American tribe who had helped them survive the brutal New England winter. Four hundred years ago this month, Thanksgiving was born.
I love Thanksgiving and see it as the quintessentially American holiday. It was started by colonists who were willing to risk everything, even their lives, for freedom. Thanksgiving combines that pioneer spirit with an enduring gratitude for the American way of life.
As you enjoy this time with your family, remember that many of the families of our servicemembers will have an empty seat at their Thanksgiving tables this year. Of all the things to be grateful for, the daily service and sacrifice of these brave men and women should be at the top of the list.
During the holiday season, Nebraskans always keep in mind vulnerable and less fortunate families across our state. This year is especially hard for many: Inflation is at its highest level in decades, causing a rise in consumer prices that has hit the Midwest harder than many other parts of the country. This means Thanksgiving meals will be more expensive, and that is particularly tough for Nebraskans on a fixed income and the families who are struggling to balance their budgets as a result of the increased costs of basic, everyday goods.
I recently joined Meals on Wheels in Lincoln to deliver meals to local seniors. It was so lovely to have time to visit with such wonderful people who gave me the gift of amity during this special season. There are so many opportunities to give back to your community, whether it’s volunteering at your local food bank, checking in on a friend or neighbor, or writing a card to our troops.
Over the past year and a half during the COVID-19 pandemic, all Nebraskans came to appreciate the different aspects of life that could have otherwise been taken for granted. Times were difficult, but Nebraskans were resilient. Our communities found a way to lift each other up and take care of one another.
Despite our challenges, Americans have so much to be grateful for this year, most of all this chance to be back together with our extended families. I pray that all Nebraskans will have the opportunity to reflect with gratitude on the freedoms we enjoy as a nation and experience the love of family, friends and neighbors. May your hearts be warmed with thankfulness. Bruce and I wish you and your loved ones a very happy Thanksgiving.