Many of our lighthouse neighbors here on Hilton Head Island travelled overseas for business during busy careers before settling here. In the era leading up to globalization, there were times when people elsewhere wanted an American point of view and were willing to pay well for it.
Our former world travelers tell us that their friends in other countries showed greater-than-average interest in our celebration of Thanksgiving. Most our holidays are not unique to the U.S., and so one of the joys of this perspective was seeing how they are celebrated in other lands and cultures.
But when it comes to Thanksgiving, our traveling friends say they recall the look on the faces of their colleagues in other nations. There is a trace, they say, of admiration. Thanksgiving, it seems, was another American invention.
Setting Moments Aside
The essence of celebration begins with our attention. A holiday is, in a sense, a purely human declaration that this day is not like all the others. The story of the struggles of early American colonists to survive those first winters, nurture those beginnings of a growing season, and make the most of what at first were meager harvests was encapsulated and enshrined when Thanksgiving became a national holiday in 1870.
Nearly a century earlier, on November 26, 1789, George Washington issued a proclamation for “a day of public thanksgiving and prayer.” In 1863, during some of the darkest days of our struggles to remain a nation, Abraham Lincoln encouraged Americans to recognize the last Thursday of November as “a day of thanksgiving.” And so, when Congress enacted it in 1870, Thanksgiving already had a distinct American history.
We Lose Count
Just as the millions of visitors we have welcomed here to the Harbour Town Lighthouse are each and every one unique – and their number can only be estimated – so, too, do the things for which we give thanks seem too many and too great to count.
During this Thanksgiving season, it occurs to us that people – our visitors, neighbors, colleagues, and fellow citizens of America’s favorite vacation island – are the source of some of our greatest gratitude.
From Each and from All
From each of the people we encounter here, and from something grand that they add up to as a whole, we see everyday inspiration arising here around the lighthouse. This is one of the privileges of serving in this role, for our community and for the extended family of folks who come here and then go home with indelible memories.
Some make discoveries at the lighthouse that change their lives – from a first kiss to engagements, weddings, and anniversaries observed here. Some receive insights here that change what is possible for many – enterprises and initiatives of all kinds can trace their origin to a moment of inspiration at the Harbour Town Lighthouse.
For What We See
Even more beautiful, in a way, than all the sunsets, all the sailboats, all the frolicking dolphins and swooping sea birds that come within the gaze of the Harbour Town Lighthouse are the people we see here and their moments of inspiration.
This is our special reason for Thanksgiving this year. In a way, inspiration is the view of the invisible, behind the beauty we share from our vantage point, here at the Harbour Town Lighthouse. Come join us when you can.