As the American experiment produced tremendous results - as our free republic produced unimaginable wealth - Thanksgiving took on a whole new meaning.
Over many years, millions have flocked to our shores, asking for nothing but the freedom to pursue their own happiness.
This is what I celebrate still on Thanksgiving.
I love the commotion of the day. My father has to rent a couple of tables and several folding chairs to accommodate our family.
Everyone shows up with a plate of some kind - my new job is to make the second turkey and bring that with me - to contribute to the celebration.
After my father says grace, we toast loved ones who have passed. We pay tribute to Grandma and Nanny, Aunt Jane, Uncle Mike and Uncle Jimmy. We share humorous toasts and laugh out loud.
And then we dig into our feast.
We are thankful because we are together - because we know that everything we really need in life can be found sitting next to us at our Thanksgiving table.