Thanksgiving is a Holiday ignored by the media with the exception of the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade each year. By the time we're defrosting our turkeys and preparing the dressing, most stores have completely bypassed this tradition and moved on to Christmas, a much more lucrative venture; retailer's delight.
But I say NO! I refuse to move on to Feliz Navidad until December 1.
Each year I look forward to Thanksgiving because it's not a media showcase. It is, and remains, one of the few holidays not tainted by commercialism (unless you count purchasing food, which I don't because you would have to eat anyway). Thanksgiving is about being together, being a family, being friends, just being. It isn't about material gifts or presents but about spending time with one another to break bread and enjoy a few moments of peace with the ones you love.
Every year growing up, my Granny would put together an elaborate Thanksgiving feast. The turkey, the dressing (with a separate pan just for me!), the mashed and sweet potatoes, green beans, gravy, rolls, pies, the works. And each year we would gather together to simply eat. There was no pressure, from what I could see through the eyes of a child, to bring this group together and allow us to enjoy this meal on a blessed Thursday afternoon. None. As an adult, I now understand how much work it is to pull together such a feast, but nonetheless, I still find it to be the best holiday for gathering.
Thanksgiving, as a tradition, is well known in the United States. Now, don't laugh when I share this, but it wasn't until I saw Across the Universe, a film based on the Beatles songs, that I realized Thanksgiving is a tradition solely belonging to America. How many other holidays do we lay claim to? Christmas, certainly not. Valentines, not even close. St. Patrick's Day, Easter, Halloween - no, no, and no. But Thanksgiving: it's ours, just ours. How amazing. Something truly American.
Now, to be absolutely clear, I understand Canada also celebrates a similar tradition, but theirs is a celebration of homecoming not harvest. The history of Thanksgiving in Canada goes back to an explorer that was trying to find a northern passage and upon his return, they were thankful. The feast was in celebration of the end of the long journey. In the Netherlands, they celebrate a Thanksgiving in honor of the American Pilgrims on the morning of the same day for the American holiday (so I still count that as ours). In Liberia and Norfolk, Thanksgiving is also celebrated, but the custom was brought to both places by American settlers and travelers - so, still ours.
The traditional origin of modern Thanksgiving in the United States is generally regarded to be the celebration that occurred at the site of the Plymouth Plantation in Massachusetts in 1621. The Native Americans helped the pilgrims who arrived in Massachusetts tend the land and catch fish, saving them from starvation. This harvest celebration occurred early in the history of what would become one of the original 13 colonies that later developed into the United States. Rumor has it that turkey became the dish of choice due to the lack of geese in the United States, the more consumed meat of the early settlers during their days under the rule of Queen Elizabeth in England. Which is a fine substitute for me as I hear roasted goose is not near as delicious as turkey: roasted, smoked, grilled, or fried (in the deep south we will fry anything!).
Every year at school, my son comes home dressed as either and Indian or Pilgrim in respect of this time honored American tradition and it pleases me. Every year he has a Thanksgiving feast as school and the lessons circulated during this time are of caring and sharing. Couldn't we use a little more of this on a regular basis? I'm certain I could, as could you.
So, as Thanksgiving weekend starts to come to a close, I implore you to remember this tradition with fondness in your heart. Psalm 100:4-5 says "Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures for ever; his faithfulness continues through all generations." I believe this verse to be what we should all do during this special time of the year - be truly thankful continuing this for all generations to come.
Happy Thanksgiving to all!
And just in case you aren't sure what to do with the leftovers from the 18lb turkey your mom got this year, visit All Recipes.com for some great after turkey ideas!