It is often said that the first Thanksgiving was between the Pilgrims and the Native Americans and was held in 1621 in Plymouth, Massachusetts. Whether this is historically accurate or not, the public perception of Thanksgiving in the United States is based on the idea that you get together with friends and family and humbly thank God or each other (or both) for managing to get through the past year.
I think Thanksgiving is a great holiday because it is based around four truly important ingredients: family, faith, humility, and food.
I know that many people have a strong image of "going home for Christmas," but I am never surprised to read that more Americans travel at or for Thanksgiving than do for Christmas. I certainly do. For one thing, the weather can usually be counted in late November compared to late December, so I would rather drive at that time. (Flying sucks during any holiday season.)
Faith comes into play because the Pilgrims escaped England in order to practice their faith in the way they wanted; the first Thanksgivings were held to literally give thanks to God for not killing them in the rough New World that they had chosen for themselves. This sense of freedom to practice their religion as they wanted eventually led us to the Freedom Of Religion (or Freedom From Religion) that we have today.
And Faith leads naturally to humility. No one has ever sat around a Thanksgiving table and said, "I did what I did all by myself. I didn't need any help. I deserve all that I got and I want more." Even the most arrogant and self-centered people tend to gain a little bit of humility when they sit down and start to contemplate just how lucky they are. Unfortunately, that type of humility tends to whither and die sooner than a rose in winter.
And of course, Thanksgiving is all about food. Just make sure you do two things this year: thank whoever it is who worked so hard to cook all that food for you, AND share the bounty. Buy some pies and bring them to the fire or police stations for those people who are on duty that day. Drop off canned goods to food banks or shelters. Remember, "there but for the grace of God, go I...."
Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!