Please forgive and indulge me as I relate my thoughts on our Thanksgiving Holiday from memory.
We in America celebrate the nationwide holiday of Thanksgiving every year to celebrate and remember our blessings. So, on the fourth and usually last Thursday of November we gather and sit down together with family and loved ones and perhaps friends to share a feast of stuffed turkey, perhaps a ham or goose, various potato dishes, cranberry sauce and gravy, vegetables, bread and beverages…whatever each family prefers or is able to contribute.
Some families put on the entire meal while others graciously allow contributed dishes. Sometimes, families work together in the kitchen to prepare the meal or simply to achieve the finishing touches. When it is time to eat, there may be a prayer or simply a moment to express thanks for being together for the wonderful family meal.
Eventually dessert is served and the star is a homemade pumpkin pie. There can be any number of other types of pies and desserts offered as well. Then we all sit around a short time to let the food settle. Some will go into a food coma, some will watch the traditional football games on the tv, children will go play, and others will return to the kitchen to clean up and put away the leftovers or package them up for the return trip home.
Goodbye’s are said, hugs exchanged, and every guest leaves with some leftovers and a warm feeling inside, if only because this was all produced at someone else’s home rather than their own.
Thanksgiving has also become the signal to begin the Official Christmas Season of Shopping.
The day after is known as Black Friday. This is not because of the bruises and black eyes you might get fighting for a “deep discount” on some trinket or bauble to give away to a family member or co-worker. No, it is because this has become the single biggest retail event of the entire fiscal year. This is traditionally the single day when businesses hope to either move red ink to black on their books…or dive even deeper into their black inkwell.
We can all thank our government for this twisted aspect. Once Thanksgiving was granted it’s secular status mankind soon realized what a waste the long weekend was without a lot of retailing opportunities for all those government employee’s. Some private business’s adopted the measure too. There were more wallets floating around waiting to be opened by…something.
Thus was Black Friday born.
Today, government workers still receive various perks related to Thanksgiving, while the private sector’s employee’s are often scheduled to work at least part of the day. So, what began as a day to literally give thanks and remember the Pilgrims and the Native Americans coming together and sharing a meal as a way of giving thanks to their particular Cosmic Being, has for many been reduced to “just another day” as I overheard one store clerk say to another a few days ago.
Schools get into the celebration too. Elementary school students churn out art projects to be displayed in the home and kitchen. Middle schools and even high schools are adorned with the appropriate holiday trimmings. Institutions of higher learning decorate to some small degree, albeit in a more reserved and tasteful manner.
Thanksgiving is usually the single heaviest holiday for travel. Whether by motorcycle, car, bus, plane or boat we are practically required to attend this family meal. So by whatever means we can utilize, we try to get there. This is the one day of the year we can celebrate being a family, as a family. Together at the table, sharing the bounty of our efforts with those present and perhaps remembering those not present for their contributions.
Despite all the crass commercialism Thanksgiving’s spirit still lives on at the table just as it was born at the table with the pilgrims and the Indians.
Publisher’s Note: As I said, this is my memory and what I’ve learned about Thanksgiving. It’s condensed for your convenience. I’ve omitted all the latest popular thoughts about what may have really happened at the first Thanksgiving, or if there really was one, and how we betrayed the Native Americans and so on.
Regardless of whether or not any of that is factual, I’ve described how Thanksgiving is actually traditionally practiced here in America.
At least for now.