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Exactly what took place at the first Thanksgiving nearly 400 years ago in Plymouth, Massachusetts, is gleaned from a mixture of journal entries, legend and speculation. What do we know for sure? There was no Macy's parade. Or football. And the meal was served sans potatoes, cranberry sauce and, quite possibly, turkey.

According to the widely accepted version of that first Thanksgiving — a three-day feast in 1621 celebrating a bountiful first fall harvest for the settlers from England — what did take place was fellowship between two very different groups of people: the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Native Americans. Supposedly, both groups contributed to the feast, and then ate and drank together while overcoming differences that included a language barrier and wildly diverse life experiences to greatly enjoy each other's company.

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Maybe that retelling of the first Thanksgiving is as much myth as reality, but it's something all Americans should embrace today during a much-needed, unifying national holiday.

We won't fall victim to hyperbole and advance the notion that we're a nation more divided than at any point in our history. That's ludicrous. But the divide is real and it seems to have widened significantly over a nasty presidential campaign during which battle lines were drawn more than ever before on social media by a partisan electorate that bitterly and vehemently disagreed on pretty much everything.

Throughout the past few months, most Facebook pages and Twitter feeds were dominated by divisive rhetoric, some of it reacting to fake "news," much of it bubbling up out of frustration thanks to the ugliest presidential campaign in modern American history. Having differences of opinion is one thing, but this went well beyond that. So polarizing a figure is the president-elect that his campaign slogan of "Make America Great Again" caused hard feelings with many groups wanting to know exactly what time period he was advocating we go back to.

Well, how about to 395 years ago? Whatever happened after, maybe we were never better than when we got together, despite our differences, to celebrate and give thanks with people who didn't look or sound like us.

We're better than we've shown as a nation this year. The proof has been on display in numerous recent editions of this newspaper. From the Marine collecting Toys for Tots, to the 750 bags donated for domestic violence shelters, to the restaurants and police in Hampstead teaming up for Shop With a Cop Restaurant Week, to the United Way giving out 100 turkey dinners, to the Gingerbread festival raising money for Human Services Programs, to the "Mayor on the Square" collecting more than 3,400 pounds of food in New Windsor, to Miss Maryland's foundation to serve military members and families, we've seen numerous signs encouraging signs in just the past two weeks.

There is as much reason to be hopeful as there is to be thankful today. Remember, we have plenty in common. We might not agree on everything, but why not reach across the political aisle as you reach across the table today? Find some common ground in a parade. Or football. Or turkey. Post a few words of thanks on social media rather than a diatribe on the latest transgression by the "other" party. And think more about our similarities than our differences as we continue a worthwhile tradition that began nearly four centuries ago.

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