The journey made in 1620 on the Mayflower was nothing like the cruising we do today. Those 102 passengers and crew were in for quite a ride, as they spent two months or more on the Atlantic Ocean after leaving Plymouth, England before landing on the coast of what is now Massachusetts, instead of the intended destination at the mouth of the Hudson River in New York.
There was no ship’s bursar to complain to about their cabin or any other matter regarding their accommodations. No kids were playing “Marco Polo” in the ship’s pool, driving everyone crazy, and the food was less than palatable to our tastes today. In fact many would have a hard time keeping anything down due to the rough seas.Exposure and scurvy were commonplace, and by the time the first winter passed nearly half of those passengers and crew had succumbed to either the effects of the trip or the exposure to the harsh winter in the new land.
In fact it wasn’t until later in our history that the holiday of Thanksgiving was officially proclaimed, and it was President Roosevelt that changed the date to help stimulate the economy due to the Great Depression by moving it up a week to help create additional sales and fuel a lagging economy. Yes, capitalism at its best.
Unfortunately, we tend to forget the history of where we came from, and lose focus on what is really important about these holidays that we tend to take for granted. I wonder how many families will take the time to ask each other what they are thankful for and why it is important to them.
We all need to take a moment this weekend to ask ourselves that simple question. Hopefully it won’t result in reflections about material things we’ve acquired during the last year or the order we’ve placed for a new car or an upcoming trip or cruise.
Those of us that live here in Southwest Florida should be very thankful for being alive, after escaping the wrath of Irma. Some of us lost ceilings, windows, screen cages or had some furnishings get wet due to the storm. Others lost everything they own and have been dealing with the most catastrophic event of their lifetimes.
We did suffer some damage here on Marco, however our neighbors and friends just off the island in Goodland, Everglades City, Immokalee and other areas suffered a much greater loss than us.
The storm brought out the best in us but also revealed a dark side of human nature, and some sought to benefit from the plight of those who are hurting. Law enforcement continues to caution residents to be careful in their dealings with contractors who may seek to take advantage of those most in need.
I was disheartened to hear some complain about being inconvenienced due to a lack of cable or phone service for a week, while others were without a roof over their heads, four walls to hang a phone or even house a television. We sometimes tend to lose a true perspective of the reality of situation when emotions roll over us.
That disappointment was overcome by the realization of the good that was being done out in the community. Our first responders, local charities and dedicated individuals would rise to the occasion and put their needs to one side and focus on assisting those in need of a helping hand or just a sympathetic ear, allowing them to vent without fear of being judged.
Yes, Thanksgiving in 2017 should be focused on taking stock in how fortunate we were and the continued needs of our neighbors and friends. As a community and a nation we know what it takes to recover from tragedies, whether they be catastrophic incidents which are manmade or from those terrible occurrences of Mother Nature.
Remember your families during this time of reflection and be thankful for the simple things in life. Be thankful for those unique bonds of family that tie us together with our parents, spouses, children and other extended family members, and for the great gift of friendship which we share with others. A gift that no value can be attached to.
I hope you had a wonderful holiday and look forward to bumping into you out in the community and hearing about your experiences.
Steve Stefanides, well-known by his nickname “Stef,” is an experienced awardwinning reporter of local civic and public interest news. Stef’s More Straight Talk column (and its predecessor, Straight Talk), on a variety of subjects, is a favorite of readers who trust him to bring them the facts. A Marco Island resident, Stef contributes to the community in many ways, having served on a number of city committees, charitable groups, boards and local organizations. Contact him by email at Stef@coastalbreezenews.com