Our Time Together Is Precious
Karen and Jay share thoughts on the value of family, especially during the holiday season
There’s a certain excitement in the air as the holiday season is now upon us. And, much of our joy at this time of year relates to family. Taking the time to get together with the people we love. Too often, we live hectic, busy lives and don’t end up spending as much time together as we would truly like. But the holidays provide the perfect opportunity. It’s up to each of us to seize the opportunity and enjoy these precious times.
This week, we celebrate Thanksgiving, and with it, the official beginning of the holiday season. With all the parties and celebrations, gifts and good cheer, it’s without a doubt one of my favorite times of the year. This year comes with a little more significance though. After having to make some sacrifices last year, and perhaps not being able to spend this time with those we love as in years past, this year we are able to bring back many of our favorite traditions with our favorite people. The contrast between the holiday season this year versus last year puts the pace of life into perspective, reminding us not to take those we love, particularly family, and the experiences we share with them, for granted.
Each family is different, some big, some small, each with our own unique traditions. When we think of family, big picture, we often think they’ll always be there. In some instances, family get-togethers tend to be filled with pomp and circumstance, and lots of planning. Maybe even a little stressful at times. In others, a casual dinner with a sibling or a parent, aunt or uncle goes on without a hitch. Yet in each case, the mere ability to have those moments at all is a blessing, as the past year has taught us.
Holiday with our family is a blessing because it’s an opportunity to take a break from work, share experiences, gain perspective and take time building bonds and relationships, which sometimes can be strained by work or distance. It’s a chance to strengthen or renew some of the most important bonds we have in life through laughter, food, and tradition. Most importantly though, spending this important time with family should help to reaffirm the love that exists between one another, that no matter the circumstances, you’ve got a whole team who's got your back.
The Story of Thanksgiving – Sarah Jospeha Hale of Newport
Sarah Josepha Hale – Born in Newport, New Hampshire, was one of the most influential women in America of the 1800’s and is credited with making Thanksgiving a national holiday.
Sarah Josepha Hale is perhaps best-known today for being the author of the famous poem, ‘Mary Had A Little Lamb.’ Also, as the driving force behind our celebration of Thanksgiving as a national holiday, having written a letter to President Abraham Lincoln, persuading him to take the action. In addition, she was also responsible for the completion of the Bunker Hill Monument. And, most important of all, she was the editor of ‘Godey’s Lady’s Book and Magazine,’ based in Philadelphia, which at the time was by far the most prominent publication for women in the country. When Sarah Jospeha Hale spoke, all of America listened.
But things did not start out this way. Sarah was born as Sarah Buell and grew up in the small town of Newport, New Hampshire, my hometown. She loved to write and pursued one of the only professions available for women at the time becoming a local schoolteacher. In 1811, her father opened a tavern in Newport called The Rising Sun and that same year, she met her future husband, David Hale, an up and coming young lawyer. It seemed as though her future was set. She would be the wife of a successful lawyer and live out her life in Newport.
However, things took an unexpected turn. Her husband took ill after visiting a client on horseback in an early season snowstorm and eventually succumbed to pneumonia. Now a widow and with a young family to support, Sarah struggled to make ends meet. But thanks to her writing skills and her passion for literature, she pushed forward to find success on so many dimensions.
Importantly, Hale had long been a proponent of celebrating Thanksgiving as a cherished New England holiday focused on unity. This was a message that at the time was very needed as the country was on the brink of the Civil War. She used her prominent writing and publishing status to push for the holiday, publishing two editorials each year and handwriting literally thousands of letters to send to elected officials and others in support of proclaiming the holiday. It would eventually yield success, but maybe not exactly how she imagined.
Although the war started before a national holiday was declared, it is worth noting that the origins of the holiday also came from the South and as well the North and New England where the tradition of Thanksgiving was originally established. Early in the Civil War, in 1862, then President of the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis used it to give thanks for recent Southern victories. Not exactly the cause Hale was looking for, but Lincoln would follow up the next year in 1863 with a similar proclamation, much less rooted in war, and the holiday was then set into motion. Hale lobbied Lincoln and his Secretary of State to make it a permanent fixture and after decades of hard work and persistence, she finally succeeded, and we now have the holiday we all know and love today!
Thank you, Sarah Josepha Hale! Meanwhile, if you happen to be visiting Newport, please take a moment to see the monument in her honor on North Main Street, adjacent to the Library Arts Center, it’s a wonderful tribute. Also, if you’d like to and learn more about this inspiring woman, I’m sure you will enjoy reading her definitive biography written by Melanie Kirkpatrick, ‘Lady Editor: Sarah Josepha Hale and the Making of the Modern American Woman.’ I have read the book, cover to cover, and it’s really a terrific read!
Food For Thought - Why The Turkey At Thanksgiving?
We all know enjoy Thanksgiving and celebrate with a big Thanksgiving dinner featuring of course, the Thanksgiving Turkey. We also know that the Pilgrims celebrated the first Thanksgiving in 1621, but we may not all know that in truth, those early Pilgrims probably did not eat turkey at that first dinner. So, the question: Why is it that the turkey today is the center piece of our Thanksgiving Dinner tradition?
Well, the answer is ‘nobody really knows,’ but if you piece together some clues, you can get a pretty good sense of how it all transpired. First of all, the turkey has had wide support among Americans including some very prominent figures since the early days of the republic. Benjamin Franklin once advocated that the turkey become the official national bird of the United States. Meanwhile, Alexander Hamilton went even further. He proclaimed that ‘No citizen of our country should refrain from eating turkey on Thanksgiving Day.’ To some extent, they were inspired by a national (anti-British, anti-European) feeling that Americans should celebrate with their ‘own bird’ as the wild turkey was native to North America and not Europe. But there was also a sense of trying to encourage common foods and traditions across this newly developing country, and the turkey was widely and easily available. In fact, wild turkeys were to be found in virtually everyone’s backyard. Plus, unlike the chicken for instance, a turkey is large enough to feed an entire family.
Today, the turkey, of course, is central to the holiday. It’s estimated that 46 million turkeys are eaten each Thanksgiving, and here are a few other fun facts: The heaviest turkey ever raised weighed in at 86 pounds. A wild turkey can run at speeds of 20 miles per hour and fly for a short distance at 55 miles per hour. A male turkey is called a ‘Tom,’ and only they can gobble.
Also, thanks in large part to Thanksgiving, the turkey industry today employs up to 25,000 people in the United States and since the 1970s, the turkey population has increased by 110 percent, despite this species being nearly wiped out due to hunting and habitat destruction in the early 20th century.
The turkey doesn't just serve as the Grand Marshall in the Macy’s Day Parade, it also serves as the grand Marshall in the Thanksgiving Parades at Disneyland and Disney World. And while we are on the topic of fun kid things like Disney, it's rumored that the costume for Big Bird on Sesame Street is said to be made of turkey feathers. And, of course, it has become a tradition that our President each year officially ‘pardons’ a turkey in a special ceremony at the White House.
In fact, this truly American bird has brought people together in ways that could hardly be imagined at the first Thanksgiving. For example, there are more than 1,000 turkey trot road races around the country every year. Like me, these runners are making room for the meal later in the day and then celebrating with family, fun, football and good times. Happy Thanksgiving weekend!
Positive Profile of the Week: Kerry Norton
As the Sunshine Initiative grows, so do our relationships. I get to meet with so many amazing people in our State and beyond. As we have begun our efforts in Rochester, I have had the great pleasure of getting to know and become friends with a truly remarkable woman, Kerry Norton. Kerry is not only a leader in the community but is the driving force in the founding and growth of an organization known as ‘Hope on Haven Hill’ in Rochester – dedicated to helping pregnant women with substance abuse issues deliver health babies and embark on successful futures. In a word, amazing!
Kerry Norton’s background is in the medical field. For over 30 years Kerry was a nurse, raising three children along with her devoted and supportive husband, Russ. Then, one day, her life took a dramatic turn. While helping a family member deal with a substance issue, her eyes were opened to the world of substance abuse, treatment options and in particular, the plight of young women not only experiencing substance issues, but who were also pregnant. In helping one such woman, Abi, attempting to find treatment and support, Kerry found that there were very limited options available. In fact, there was only one recovery center in the entire state of New Hampshire specializing in helping pregnant women overcome their fight with addiction. So, Kerry decided to take action.
In 2016, Kerry along with her co-founders opened the doors to Haven Hill in Rochester. This one of a kind residential treatment facility has changed the way women deal with substance abuse issues. Hope on Haven Hill offers both inpatient and outpatient support and provides housing for women and their children seeking help as they fight back their addiction issues. Importantly, the effort provides a recovery center where young women and their babies can transition into their new lives together.
The need for these services is real and is growing every day. That is why Kerry and the team at Hope on Haven Hill recently launched a capital campaign to build a new facility to support more women and their children. This $3.25 million-dollar campaign is well underway and with the support of many in the area they hope to begin construction in 2022.
Kerry truly is a compassionate, community driven person. Her hard work has been recognized and rightfully so. In 2019, Kerry received the National Pillar of Excellence Award from the Addiction Policy Forum, and she has been honored with other prestigious awards as well. She is deeply involved in her community, even serving as the most recent President of the Rochester Rotary Club.
Let us join Kerry in her mission to help women fight substance abuse issues, deliver healthy children and rally to be there for those in need. Thank you, Kerry, for all that you do and being an inspiration to us all!
Positive Quotes of the Week: Family Time
“At the end of your life, you will never regret not having passed one more test, not winning one more verdict, or not closing one more deal. You will regret time not spent with a husband, a friend, a child, a parent.”
“It is more important than ever to make our families the center of our lives and the top of our priorities.”
—L. Tom Perry
“In family relationships love is really spelled t-i-m-e, time.”
—Dieter F. Uchtdorf
“Family time is sacred time and should be protected and respected.”
—Boyd K. Packer
Tennis just a game, family is forever.”
— Serena Williams