7 Reasons We Love Thanksgiving
7 Reasons We Love Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving is a truly American holiday. The first was celebrated in 1621 in Plymouth Colony which would later become Massachusetts. The Pilgrim settlers held a feast as an expression of gratitude to god for a successful harvest and the survival of their community. It was also a celebration of appreciation to the incredible generosity and fullness of spirit shown them by the indigenous Wampanoag people. Without the supply of food the tribe shared with the refugees from across the ocean, the colony would not have survived that first extremely difficult winter. For those Native American people to display such compassion and kindness to people so different still shines like a beacon of light for almost 400 years! As we celebrate and share the bounty of our table and our lives with family and friends this Thanksgiving, I hope we all silently remember that act of humanity that is still remarkable after four centuries.
Thanksgiving did not become an annual celebration until much later. It was not until 1863 that Abraham Lincoln declared the last Thursday of November a national holiday. As Thanksgiving became more popular, it has evolved through the years to be synonymous for modern Americans with parades, football, turkey, and visits to grandma’s house. I recommend taking a few minutes to watch this great video on the History of Thanksgiving. You may or may not learn some facts you didn’t know, but I think one thing most of us do know, Americans love Thanksgiving! Let’s explore a few of things we enjoy about this holiday.
1. A Mini-Vacay
For the majority of us workin' folk, the Thanksgiving holiday means 4 days off work. Since the day after the holiday, now known as Black Friday, is also a holiday for most Americans, it is a good chunk of time to enjoy, relax, rejoice, connect with family and prepare for the quickly approaching holiday season. For many shopping on the day following Thanksgiving is the kickoff to the season of shopping and a day synonymous with fabulous bargains and deals on the most sought after gifts.
2. Over the River and Through the Woods to Grandma’s and the Rest of the Family
Thanksgiving is an opportunity to bring families together, no matter the distance that separates them. It is the first visit home in the new school season and looked forward to by many college freshmen away from home and family for the first time. To share good food, good feelings, and good memories with those you love, well it doesn’t get any better! Is it any wonder Thanksgiving is the most traveled holiday of the year?
3. To Celebrate America’s Diversity
Since America is a melting pot, many families incorporate a specialty from their native country into the traditional Thanksgiving menu. I remember as a young woman working in New York City, being invited to a friends’ family celebration in Brooklynn. Her mother was Italian, her father was Puerto Rican and there was so much food on the table I was surprised it didn’t collapse from the weight. Homemade Raviolis, Meatballs, and Lasagna was accompanied by Puerto Rican Rice with Black Beans, Pastelon, and Mofongo. In the middle of the table was a large, perfectly roasted Turkey that no one ever carved! I was told it was the centerpiece and brought American authenticity to the celebration! I saw that turkey as a symbol of America’s ability to unite those of different origins under one country and flag.
4. Food Preparation
Rather than viewing preparing the feast as a chore, many families incorporate cooking the meal as part of the celebration. Open a bottle of wine and gather everyone in the kitchen. Assign a task and you create an opportunity to share recipes, family history, and stories of past Thanksgiving celebrations. Only entertaining a small group this year? Here is a great idea for an easy meal from NPR.
5. Lots of Food and Lots of Eating
Let’s not forget that Thanksgiving is also the great American eating Holiday! Yes, it is the one day of the year you are expected to overeat without feeling guilty for it. Also, calories consumed on Thanksgiving don’t count, so there is that as well. Everyone has their favorite dishes that only come around this one day of the year. For my family, it was the turkey and my grandmother’s homemade Apple and Pumpkin Pie.
6. Thanksgiving is a No Pressure Holiday
Preceding Christmas by just a few weeks, it kicks off the holiday with no pressure. No preparation that consumes weeks, no crowded stores or consumerism on steroids. Just family and close friends, good food, wine, the sharing of good stories, and lots of laughter. A great meal followed by watching football, maybe a nap, a walk in the crisp air, and just being. Then there are at least two days of leftovers. Perfect!
7. Be Thankful and Share
Honoring the first Thanksgiving and remembering it is a day of thankfulness for the blessings and bounty we enjoy. Here in America, most of us have a loving family, friends, more than enough food, a home, and a country that offered our ancestors great opportunity. What better expression of gratitude for all that we enjoy than to extend that same opportunity our forebears received to current refugees who have no home, no food, and no country, just like the Pilgrims of 400 years ago.
Happy Thanksgiving. Stay safe and warm and be careful out there.