Harvest festivals such as Thanksgiving, celebrating the Earth’s bounty and the gods’ goodness, go back to the start of civilization. As early as 1607, settlers in the Virginia colony held thanksgiving services. The Plymouth colony celebrated a holiday of prayer and thanksgiving in 1621. Observances have been held more or less continually since the First Continental Congress; it wasn’t until 1942 that the U.S. Congress set the holiday’s date as the fourth Thursday of November. Before that, the last Thursday in November was chosen by President Lincoln and changed to the third Thursday of the month by FDR, the better to stimulate the economy. The Christmas shopping season traditionally begins the day after Thanksgiving, and Roosevelt hoped the extra week for shopping would improve retailers’ bottom line. These days, it seems Christmas shopping picks up around Labor Day. Black Friday has morphed into Black Thursday, with many retailers offering bargain hunters a whole extra day to storm the malls. I wonder if folks would shop less and celebrate Thanksgiving more fully and with more enjoyment if their conversations were more about the things for which they’re thankful, less about the things that divide us?