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Thankful: The Truth

As the story goes, if it wasn’t for the Native Americans, the first pilgrims who arrived in America via a wooden ship called the Mayflower wouldn’t have survived their first winter. The Native Americans showed them how to fish, how to farm, and some time in November, both sides set aside their differences by coming together for a large feast. This was the first American thanksgiving. At least, this was the story that was ingrained in me when I first immigrated to America and spent my own first Thanksgiving. Little did I know, that the story of the first Thanksgiving may be more myth than history.

According to Chris Lewis, an American Studies instructor at the University of Colorado, Boulder, the holiday we know as Thanksgiving  had its roots in the Civil War NOT Plymouth, Massachusetts. Constantly thanking God, Abraham Lincoln established the holiday to commemorate the dead and to unite the nation by reminding the people of the United States of being thankful for the blessings they received.

So here I am, 146 years later, and I have a lot to be thankful for. I thank God for the life He’s given me. I thank Him for giving me amazing and loving parents. I thank Him for giving me a supportive group of friends that I can laugh and cry with. I am thankful that I was able to be the first in my family to graduate from a university (UCLA, Go Bruins!). I am thankful for the freedom of speech and freedom in general. I am thankful for the men and women who fight so that freedom would still ring in this country. Yes, I have a lot to be thankful for–I don’t think I can count all the blessings that have been bestowed upon me.

Counting blessings is something that my friend Victor and I used to do before we left for college. It was a good practice for us because as emo teenagers who thought the world would end when things didn’t go as we wanted them to go, counting our blessings reminded us of how life wasn’t at all that bad. As teenagers, we were so dramatic about how we saw life, so when we wrote down on paper all the specific things we were thankful for each day for an entire week, we realized we were quite spoiled–that God gave us bountiful blessings. And as a result, if we were truly blessed, then why should we have a “woe is me” mentality?

Grateful–blessed, spoiled even. And I want to continue the habit of giving to others, and that’s my identity revealed.

Abraham Lincoln, photo credit: College Publisher

Here is the 1863 Thanksgiving Proclamation by President Abraham Lincoln (The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, edited by Roy P. Basler)

Washington, D.C.
October 3, 1863

This is the proclamation which set the precedent for America’s national day of Thanksgiving. During his administration, President Lincoln issued many orders like this. For example, on November 28, 1861, he ordered government departments closed for a local day of thanksgiving.

Sarah Josepha Hale, a prominent magazine editor, wrote a letter to Lincoln on 28, 1863, urging him to have the “day of our annual Thanksgiving made a National and fixed Union Festival.” She wrote, “You may have observed that, for some years past, there has been an increasing interest felt in our land to have the Thanksgiving held on the same day, in all the States; it now needs National recognition and authoritive fixation, only, to become permanently, an American custom and institution.” The document below sets apart the last Thursday of November “as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise.”

According to an April 1, 1864, letter from John Nicolay, one of President Lincoln’s secretaries, this document was written by Secretary of State William Seward, and the original was in his handwriting. On October 3, 1863, fellow Cabinet member Gideon Welles recorded in his diary that he complimented Seward on his work. A year later the manuscript was sold to benefit Union troops.

By the President of the United States of America.

A Proclamation.

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consiousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln

William H. Seward,
Secretary of State

 

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My Experience With Two Women

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Photo Credit: Artchive

For most people, Labor Day is spent on the road, whether it’s traveling to Lake Havasu  or San Diego, or driving down to the mall to shop with that great holiday savings. My family is definitely not an exception. We had quite a day spending breakfast together at McDonalds, leaving flowers on my sister’s grave, and driving all the way down to Ontario Mills Outlet store to do some mild shopping (I ended up buying NOTHING!) Then, my mom said she had a surprise for me. She wanted to set me up with two different women. And I, being absolutely horrified of mom playing matchmaker, reluctantly said “Yes.”

We ended up driving all the way to Alhambra. So I was quite surprised that we pulled up to the Renaissance Theater driveway. Walking slowly to the ticket counter, my mom bought some tickets. So I said, “Where are they?” My mom looked at my dad, then back at me. Then, she let out a huge laugh, and said with an Indonesian accent “Surprise!” as she pulled out three tickets. I was dumbfounded–I didn’t understant what she was trying to surprise me with. Then, I looked closer to the tickets and it turned out she bought three tickets to “Julie and Julia.” The two women she wanted me to meet was the movie she had always wanted to watch as a family. If this isn’t an FML moment, I don’t know what is anymore.

So I sat there in the theater disappointed that I was tricked and outsmarted by my mom into watching this chick flick, but relieved at the same time that she hadn’t set me up on a blind date (as some Asian moms tend to do). But as I continued watching the movie, I laughed more than I thought I would. Sure, it’s no “I Love You Man,” and it didn’t have jokes that most guys love (crude homor, violence, etc.) but to see the lives of these two women from two different time periods played out, I couldn’t help but be amazed that it was all based on a true story. Although Megan Fox wasn’t in it,  at least it does have one thing guys love: all the delicious food scenes–after all, it’s the way to man’s heart.

The movie did well portraying the different eras through the costumes and the technology that was present at the time. Take for example, carbon copy and the typewriter back in the 1950s. I am so glad for the copier and the computer and Microsoft Word! And better yet, I no longer had to explain what blogging is to my mother. She now understands what I do! But I definitely recommend this movie to everyone! I think you can also appreciate the challenges that both couples go through to keep a marriage together. It’s very anti-Disney story-book love! Real marriage takes lots of work!

Now Julie (the main character who’s based from a real life persona that wrote the book that the movie is made from) has given me a new passion for writing and blogging. As I continue to write about societial issues being revealed, I’d like to write a little bit more about my identity–perhaps more about my identity as someone trying to lose weight, gain muscle, and look leaner and meaner. You may think that’s a bit self-centered of me, and I have to admit, it may actually be. But I’d like to write about my transformation and my quest of getting back my high school abs. I know others can relate. And just like the main character approaching 30, at my current age of 23, I’m getting a whole lot older and those abs may never come when I hit 30 at this rate. So perhaps others would encourage me along this journey. I don’t know. But that’s what an adventurous journey is, isn’t it? The thrill of not knowing?

I now know for sure that my mom is quite tricky, and quite clever. Perhaps that’s where I got all that from.

Photo Credit: Artchive

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