One hundred and fifty years ago, with the country still torn by civil war, President Lincoln issued a proclamation calling for all Americans to observe a common day "of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens." That's when Thanksgiving evolved from a holiday celebrated by states and the federal government on their own timetables into a national one held on the fourth Thursday of every November.
We are far less divided as a country now than we were in Lincoln's day, but we're still split sharply, even bitterly, on some major issues. Healthcare reform, the federal budget, abortion, immigration, the National Security Agency's surveillance programs, gay marriage, income inequality — these are just some of the topics that polarize Americans.
Today, however, is a day to set such disputes aside, in the spirit of Lincoln's 1863 proclamation and the original Thanksgiving celebration in 1621. This year, we at The Times' editorial board are thankful for:
The steady growth of the U.S. economy, slow as it may be, despite the dysfunction in Washington and the doldrums in much of the rest of the developed world.
The continued historic plunge of violent crime in Los Angeles.
California's recognition of same-sex marriage, five years after the Proposition 8 campaign tore the state in two. For a socially progressive state, we were frustratingly slow to join the civil rights movement of the early 21st century, but we're thankful to be there now, even if it was because the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a lower-court ruling on procedural rather than substantive grounds.
The end of Carmageddon closures. The Rampture is over and the Wilshire Boulevard ramps on and off the 405 Freeway are open again. Slowly, perhaps too slowly, the $1 billion project to add a 10-mile carpool lane to the 405 is inching toward completion next September.
The government's $13 billion settlement with JPMorgan Chase for fraudulently downplaying the risks involved in the mortgage-backed securities sold by the bank and two of the failing institutions it acquired.
Los Angeles voters' rejection of a proposed increase in the local sales tax, despite warnings that crime would run rampant and the city would go bankrupt. Crime did not run rampant. And the city did not go bankrupt.
Alice Munro, the Canadian short story writer, whose four decades of brilliant prose were finally recognized by the Swedish Academy with the 2013 Nobel Prize in Literature.
Gov. Jerry Brown's bold advocacy for a drastically simpler and more equitable way of funding schools.
Binge-watching. Netflix, Amazon and other on-demand services have allowed us to spend (waste) hours (days even!) absorbed in the products of a new golden age of television.
The fiscal turnaround in California, which wags once compared to Greece as an economic basket case. In fact, the state is now cited by some as the nation's model. But let's not go overboard.
New Los Angeles Unified school board member Monica Ratliff, for raising the first tough questions about the district's billion-dollar project to provide every student and teacher with an iPad.
Former National Security Agency contractor Edward J. Snowden's revelations about the government's secret collection of the personal data of American citizens. Whatever you think of Snowden, his release of classified documents has triggered a debate about broad questions of policy that was previously impossible.
Sadia Saifuddin, who became the first Muslim to serve as student representative to the University of California Board of Regents, despite wrongheaded objections that she was anti-Semitic and could not represent "all the students."
The resignation of San Diego Mayor Bob Filner, after a litany of allegations of sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior. At least he wasn't the worst big-city mayor of the year. That honor goes to Toronto's crack-smoking Rob Ford.
The comparatively trouble-free launch of the website for Covered California, the state's health insurance exchange, in sharp contrast to the migraine-inducing problems at the federally run Healthcare.gov.
Pope Francis — Tweeter, free speaker, hugger, random caller to people who write him. He's challenging Roman Catholics and non-Catholics to think about their faith in action.
The state, for coming to grips, slowly and fitfully, with the causes and not just the effects of its criminal sentencing policies.
The new state law allowing immigrants who are in the U.S. without documents to obtain driver's licenses, thereby enhancing public safety.
The Los Angeles City Council's adoption of the biggest plastic bag ban in California.
The departure from the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department of Undersheriff Paul Tanaka, who'd been accused by the Citizens' Commission on Jail Violence of trying to undermine the credibility of internal affairs investigations.
Readers who make it all the way to the end of our editorials.