With the holiday of Thanksgiving drawing near, I would be remiss if I did not remind everyone to use that special day to thank the people you come in contact with on a regular basis. Thanksgiving is not simply a day to eat turkey and watch football. We all enjoy these things, but the origin of the day is truly a day of thanks.
In history we learned that the Pilgrims celebrated the first thanksgiving most likely in 1621 at Plymouth Plantation in Massachusetts. At that time it was not a holiday, but a celebration of the harvest. The Pilgrims had endured terrible conditions so they were very thankful for that first harvest in the new world. The fare was probably wild turkey, fish, lobster, venison, and other game birds. The vegetables would have come from their gardens.
The Wampanoag Indians had shared information about planting, hunting, fishing, and general survival techniques. That first dinner was a three-day feast. It was not until later that the Pilgrims made the day one of fasting and prayer.
A few days after the victory at Gettysburg, President Lincoln signed a proclamation designating the last Thursday of November as a national day of thanksgiving. This capped a long campaign by Sara Josepha Hale, the editor of Godey's Lady's Book, to set aside a day each year not only to give thanks for the bounty of the season but to have a day of "national purpose and unity". It is due to the dedication of Mrs. Hale that the United States was the first country to declare a national day of Thanksgiving and designate it as a holiday. For her efforts, Hale is called the "Mother of Thanksgiving".
Traditions changed as we moved into the twentieth century. The Macy's Christmas Parade began in 1924. The first Thanksgiving football game was played by the Detroit Lions and the Chicago Cubs in 1934. NBC radio broadcast it. The 26,000 football game tickets sold easily.
When you think of Thanksgiving do you think of some of the songs that we used to sing on a regular basis? The www.history.com website listed "Over the River and through the Woods", We Gather Together", "Come Ye Thankful People Come", and "For the Beauty of the Earth". I guess some of those songs arose from the way things used to be.
Then, there is the famous scene around the Thanksgiving table drawn by Norman Rockwell. That picture is revived nearly every year in some advertisement or commercial. When Snoopy and Charlie Brown burst on the scene a new tradition began. Who hasn't watched "The Charlie Brown Thanksgiving"?
Today, Thanksgiving comes from the store for many of us. We watch the weekly flyers to get the best deal on the turkey. Our vegetables come from tin cans or frozen packages. Even cranberry sauce comes ready made these days.
You can order a complete dinner prepared so all you have to do is pick it up, take it home, and put it on your table.
That kind of meal is not for me. No, I will not slave away in the kitchen for hours, but I will cook. Turkey is really not that hard to fix. You put the bird in the oven and let it bake for hours. I also enjoy my own cranberry sauce. The recipe I use was my grandmother's. My husband had never eaten cranberry relish until he married me, but it quickly became his favorite dish.
I will also cook my own potatoes and vegetables. The squash came right from the farm. For me, squash is a must have, but some of the family do not care for it so we will also have another vegetable. Usually I make my own stuffing, but I may take some help from one of the companies that sell seasoned bread cubes.
Farm family meals happen between the hours of the chores. Dairy chores were done in the morning, then, we ate early in the afternoon so the men could go do chores again in the evening. Thanksgiving is not a day off for farmers.
When the children were young they were allowed to stay at whatever house we gathered at to play games, but as soon as they became part of the labor force we all went home early. It always amazed me that we managed to put away that much food in such a short amount of time.
When I was till teaching the women teachers begged to get the Wednesday before Thanksgiving off to no avail. The men who hunted won out. They got the Monday after the holiday as a day off. This year I do not know what they were thinking when they did the school calendar. The break is as long as it is for Christmas! That being said, the time must be made up somewhere.
Although Thanksgiving today is not a Christian holiday, who would we thank for all of our blessings if we do not thank the Lord? I found Psalm 100 as part of my reading this weekend. That short passage carries the reminder of thankfulness. "Enter his gates with thanksgiving..give thanks to him and praise his name."?
May you and yours enjoy a blessed Thanksgiving complete with all of the trimmings.
Ann Swanson writes from her home in Russell, PA. Contact at firstname.lastname@example.org