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Abundant thanks to all, for all

We really live in a great area of the country. The crime rates are low; unemployment is low; people are friendly; the public schools are good; and parents assume responsibility for their children. I'd like to take this opportunity to say thanks to everybody in West Fargo and the surrounding communities who contributes to this overall peace and relative tranquility.

Conceptualizing this editorial in my mind, I knew I'd be working with less space than normal, and I had ambivalent feelings about what I really wanted to say.

On the one hand, I felt like unloading a boatload of frustration and cynicism at "the system," the state of the world and the seeming lack of concern by a large portion of Americans who are content to sit around, watch television, and ignore the rest of humanity, while they're willing to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on themselves every holiday season but unwilling to write a check and drop it into the Red Kettle or contribute a few dollars to charity. Thanks for the apathy and self-centeredness, I thought.

On the other hand, I looked around our community and decided we are a giving people, a caring people, and a people who want the collective best. We aren't responsible for the actions of others. We begins with I, me and my, so we would be best served if I focus on the positive and say thanks to all, for all. We have the freedom to contribute to the collective betterment, and it has led to the abundance and prosperity we recognize and give thanks for every year during this American holiday founded in piety and patriotism.

I enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday traditions very much. In China, when I was teaching in the university, I would devote my classes during the last week of November to teaching about the traditional Thanksgiving - the story and the vocabulary associated with it. Why would the Native American tribes help the struggling Pilgrims, whom they knew not and could have just as easily killed? Why were the Pilgrims so unprepared in a new country?

Providence. That's why. It all worked. The students seemed to love learning about Thanksgiving. They were so interested in our culture. Then after class I'd go out to eat rice and pork in a restaurant with some of them and talk more about how in 1621 the Plymouth colonists and the Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn harvest feast.

Did you know that the first feast wasn't repeated, so it wasn't the beginning of a tradition? In fact, the colonists didn't even call the day Thanksgiving because to them, a thanksgiving was a religious holiday in which they would go to church and thank God for a specific event, such as the winning of a battle.

Did you further know that the original feast in 1621 occurred sometime between Sept. 21 and Nov. 11, and unlike our modern holiday, it was three days long and was based on English harvest festivals, which traditionally occurred around Sept. 29.

In 1863 President Abraham Lincoln appointed a day of thanksgiving as the last Thursday in November, which he may have correlated with the Nov. 21, 1621, anchoring of the Mayflower at Cape Cod. Since then, each president has issued a Thanksgiving Day proclamation, and it was President Franklin D. Roosevelt who set the date for Thanksgiving to the fourth Thursday of November in 1939 (approved by Congress in 1941).