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Happy Thanksgiving –then and now

Happy Thanksgiving from the Fannin Sentinel staff

By Elaine Owen, Editor

Thursday, most people in our country will celebrate Thanksgiving. We welcome home family members who live away and gather around a table laden with turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, green beans, cranberry sauce, home-made apple pies, pumpkin rolls–and a dozen other family favorites.
We talk about other Thanksgivings, the loved ones no longer with us and those who chose not to make the trip to our house…and reminisce about years gone by. It’s a happy time, together with family, friends, and those who make our world a happy place.
Seldom do we talk about the time when Thanksgiving wasn’t a time of joyous celebration. It was not a time of playing football in the backyard or watching a game on TV, or turkeys and overeating. From the late 1600s to the mid-1700s, it was a day of fasting. Thanksgiving was a day called at different times of the year or even several times a year by a community when something very good or very bad had happened.
It wasn’t the last Thursday in November–it could be any day of the year. At those times, the entire community would put work aside and spend the day at the meeting house either thanking God for a good harvest, a successful battle when their loved ones returned home, or confessing their sins and humbling themselves so that God might have mercy on them in their difficult time.
It didn’t begin to resemble the Thanksgiving Day that we know today until the mid-1800s, when families would gather for a meal after spending the morning in worship.
It was 1941 when President Franklin D. Roosevelt moved Thanksgiving (as we know it) to the fourth Thursday in November.
Unfortunately, changing the date and declaring it a holiday was not to encourage our nation to attend church and to pray, but to extend the Christmas shopping season and boost the economy. Over the years, Thanksgiving Day has been celebrated in many ways for many different reasons.
In Fannin County, the events calendar is filled with announcements from churches and organizations that offer free meals to everyone. The Good Samaritans continue their “Community Thanksgiving Table” by serving a complete dinner at the High School Cafeteria from 12 to 4 p.m. St. Luke’s Episcopal Church invites everyone to a service of Holy Communion at 11 a.m. followed by a Thanksgiving Dinner. You are welcome to either or both. Other churches in the county hold special services and serve community dinners.
Also happening Thanksgiving Day in Blue Ridge is the annual Turkey Trot. The race is for the whole family and all abilities from walkers to the serious competitor. The race is held in downtown Blue Ridge and all proceeds go toward local charities. Participants are asked to bring a canned good for the Good Samaritans Food Pantry. Registration is 7 a.m. and the Race begins at 8 a.m. Register at the race or online at race
The Day After Thanksgiving, the Blue Ridge Business Association will sponsor Blue Friday at Downtown Blue Ridge Shops. Everyone is invited to spend time shopping and then take a break in one of the many one-of-a-kind restaurants and coffee shops that open early and close late. Various performances and Christmas Carols will be happening throughout downtown. Gingerbread Village will be at Hampton Square, and kids won’t want to miss Elves and Christmas characters wandering through downtown. Horse and Carriage Rides will also be available, and children’s activities in the park.
Saturday brings the excitement of the parade, Santa in the Park, entertainment throughout the day and at dusk, the lighting of the GREAT TREE at Light Up Blue Ridge!
ON A PERSONAL NOTE: Thanksgiving 2018 is also bittersweet. We lost dear friends and colleagues this year. Louise Little–who we knew since 2003 and who was always faithful to the Republican Party. She was also one of the founding members of the Fannin County Republican Women. Clark Adams, who sat next to me on a folding chair at the first meeting of the Fannin County Tea Party Patriots. Clark was steadfast in his beliefs and when he changed his mind, he let you know it. I shall miss being able to “run things by him…”
And Elizabeth Warner. The builders knew her. Her church knew her. We met her and Joel at Appalachia Baptist Church in late 2003. She was a trained singer and loved to sing in church. We worked together a few years later when the Building Industry Association (BIA) was formed in Fannin County. Her tireless spirit didn’t quit–until cancer felled her. I shall miss her.
Then there was Sandra Mercier–a great lady who gave so much to Fannin County, the schools, students, and education. But most of all, she gave to her family. I can’t count the times she called the office or sent me an email after she had seen a picture of someone in her family in the Fannin Sentinel. She always, always said, “I’m a proud Mama, you know!”
Shelbia Wimberley was the ultimate “retired educator” and will be missed. Meetings are not the same without her.
And others…gone, but not forgotten. Know that we care.
On a personal level, I am thankful for many things. First is the welcome and acceptance Jim and I have as veterans. I don’t think I will ever, ever forget an incident at Northern Michigan when, introducing myself to a class, I mentioned Vietnam. The next day I was told it had “upset the students” and “it’s best you don’t talk about your Vietnam experience again.” To my veteran friends, you have helped us heal. There are still bad times…but even if I slip up, I know I don’t have to explain.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Jim and Elaine
and the Sentinel Staff