Tuesday, November 21, 2023

A Homesick Thanksgiving -- Daily Alta California, 1850

The Daily Alta California printed the following on November 23, 1850:

Although there are not many public indications that our good citizens have prepared themselves to pay proper respect to the Governor's proclamation of a day of Thanksgiving, on the 30th of November, I hope that there are numerous preparations going silently on, which will render the day one that it should be. 

It is a good old custom, which men of all nations may enter into with good feelings — in which, forgetting that they are upon foreign soil, they may bless that beneficent providence which has placed them in a free and generous country — and losing sight of the peculiar origin of the custom, men of all religions may bless the common Father of all that he has vouchsafed to us so many blessings as we have enjoyed. 

If we have been denied many delicacies and comforts to which we were accustomed at home, let us bear in mind that we are in a new country, from which privations of someone or another sort are ever inseparable: if we have had sickness, let us remember that no small portion of its causes are attributable to our own imprudences. 

The laws of Nature are inviolable; they form the great system of infinite wisdom, and are not to be expected, by rational men, to be brought down to our whims and wishes, but it is one of the wisest of them that we should conform to their requirements. 

An ever-kind Father has established rules for our guidance, which we have only to comply with to secure at least a certain degree of happiness in life, as well as a positive exemption from many ills which we now suffer. 

As the rain now patters, against my window and upon the roof over my head, thoughts and feelings of home, of dear friends and kindred, come over me with a chastening influence, "like the sweet wind of the fair South." 

Why is it that we love to hear the pattering rain within, which is so unpleasant without? Why does it, here, in our dry country, recall memories of home and of the thousand sweet associations connected with it? In each rain-drop, in each gust that shakes our frail buildings, you may hear kindly whispers from old friends — and in your slumbers fancy yourself in your old Eastern home, where rain is a faithful and welcome guest, whose influence may be seen in the greener foliage which may gladden our eyes upon the morrow and bestow gladness upon the heart of the laborious husbandman. 

And thus, as a rain at home rejuvenates the parched soil, and indeed gives joy to all of God's animate and inanimate creatures, so may our present rain — the precursor of a Thanksgiving — bring kindly thoughts of home, of our dear family circles, and of all the enjoyments we have left behind us, but of which we may fondly hope all there are in full possession. 

A Thanksgiving in California! 

It will be the first in our young State, and let it be such a one as we will long remember. Let men of all sects, of all parties, of all lands, unite to swell the paeans to a good Father, for the garden and goodly land in which we dwell — let us bury deep all private or public animosities, and join hand in hand in a glorious, a universal jubilee! 

In extending so inestimable a custom as that of our annual Thanksgiving to the Pacific, we are still far short of the extent of goodness for which we would be thankful; in perpetuating the custom, we perform an act grateful and beneficent to our own hearts, honorable to ourselves, and valuable to posterity; and not the least, the associations inseparable from the occasion, in bringing to us visions of a Thanksgiving at home, are worth, each hour, in every good influence upon ourselves, and even far more than could be reckoned in California gold.

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