Thinking about this week’s Thanksgiving celebration stimulated my memories of the 1978 movie “Same Time Next Year,” in which Alan Alda and Ellen Burstyn, whose characters were married to others, plan to continue their romance by meeting the “same time every year.”
Through their annual liaisons, we see them try to plan for next year’s romantic encounters as their lives are affected by changing events. Much like the movie, each Thanksgiving always includes the romantic promise of celebrating again “the same time next year” despite changing events.
On Aug. 16, 1620, events were set in motion that resulted in the establishment of Thanksgivings. It was on that date the 102 would-be Pilgrims, who traveled from foreign lands, set sail for the Hudson River. Their ship, the Mayflower, which was 80 feet long and 25 feet wide at its widest point, was crowded with 37 crew members and 102 Pilgrims.
After 66 days of sometimes rough seas, on Nov. 9, they anchored in a harbor in the new world. However, it was not the Hudson River. It was further north at the end of Cape Cod at what is now Provincetown.
On Nov. 11, the Pilgrims demonstrated democracy, bypassing the logical choice of the ship’s Capt. Jones and choosing instead the college-educated William Brewster to draw up the Mayflower Compact.
The agreement read, “IN THE NAME OF GOD, AMEN, We, whose names are underwritten … do enact, constitute and frame, such just and Equal laws … as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general Good of the Colony … the eleventh of November … 1620.”
Notice the similarity to the Declaration of Independence in that their powers came from the almighty and all men were equal. Forty-one Pilgrims signed it before a skirmish with natives convinced the Pilgrims to sail away.
The Pilgrims, after arriving at Plymouth Rock in December, decided to spend that winter on the Mayflower. The effect of the lack of food, warmth, ventilation and, undoubtedly, sufficient warm clothing on a drafty ship bouncing in the wind and waves, was disastrous. Forty-five people — men, women and children — perished.
In the spring, the Wampanoag Indians befriended the Pilgrims and taught them how to raise vegetables. The Wampanoags, with no natural immunity to the Pilgrims’ diseases, lost an estimated 90% of their group, leaving them vulnerable to being destroyed by the Narragansetts. The Pilgrims saved them by giving them weapons. The quote “The more things change, the more they stay the same,” by Alphonso Kerr, comes to mind as we lack the natural immunity to battle COVID-19, only to be saved by the weapons developed in President Donald Trump’s “Warp Speed.”
In 1621, the Pilgrims invited the Wampanoags to celebrate their first harvest with a three-day feast that became the tradition of Thanksgiving, which was described by a participant Edward Winslow in “Mourt’s Relation.”
Much like the movie showed for the characters of Alda and Burstyn, the celebrations over the years reflect the various stages of this country.
In 2021, on the 400th anniversary of the first Thanksgiving: what had changed since 2020?
The short answer is the 2020 election led to the inauguration of President Joe Biden, who began a signing a barrage of executive orders that reversed the abundance of the conditions present at the 2020 Thanksgiving, such as opening our southern border, eliminating our energy independence, greatly increasing government regulations, hindering the production of baby formula and forcing up the price of a traditional Thanksgiving dinner by 14%, making a $100 dinner in 2020 cost $114 in 2021.
The president’s retreat from Afghanistan was a reminder of the many ways that wars, such as the Revolutionary War, Civil War and events leading to World War II, have impacted the way we celebrate Thanksgivings.
Now in 2022, the question arises: What has changed since “the same time last year?”
President Biden continued spending fueled inflation by, among other things, issuing money to compensate for the economic losses suffered by his government forcing private businesses to close. Sadly, he included in the distributions public employees who never missed a paycheck. He caused the firing of employees who were not vaccinated while not requiring vaccinations for any of the 5.5 million migrants walking into our country who are now being supported by the 180 million payers of federal taxes. A war broke out in Ukraine that has not cost American lives but has cost the taxpayers a great deal of money.
The cost of the traditional Thanksgiving dinner increased a record high of 21% since last year, bringing a dinner that cost $100 in 2020 to $137.94 in 2022.
Can we, like Alda and Burstyn, look forward to rekindling the romantic spirit, with ours being with democracy, at the “same time next year,” i.e., Thanksgiving 2023?
Unfortunately, that romantic spirit may be like, to quote another movie, “Romancing the Stone,” since the Republicans taking control of the House of Representatives can slow the increases in the destructive actions, but only the courts can slow the destruction from executive orders. Inflation will require the Federal Reserve to keep interest rates high.
Thanksgiving 2023 may include many more migrants joining the current 5.5 million and increasing daily, asking “What’s Thanksgiving?”
However, for most Americans, much like Mr. Alda and Ms. Burstyn, hope lives eternal that their romances with each other, and democracy, will be rekindled by the “same time next year.” Time will tell, and until then:
Happy Thanksgiving 2022!
Brent E. Zepke is an attorney, arbitrator and author who lives in Santa Barbara. His website is OneheartTwoLivescom.wordpress.com. Formerly, he taught law and business at six universities and numerous professional conferences. He is the author of six books: “One Heart-Two Lives,” “Legal Guide to Human Resources,” “Business Statistics,” “Labor Law,” “Products and the Consumer” and “Law for Non-Lawyers.”