Turkey Day

As an Englishman in New York, there have been many things I’ve noticed about my adopted home that are very different to where I grew up. Some things are good, some bad, and something’s are just downright strange.

One thing that is different is the tradition known as Thanksgiving, AKA, Turkey Day.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for a holiday and a few days to relax with the family so Thanksgiving is just the ticket. But to do it just before the holidays doesn’t seem to make sense. Whose bright idea was that? Surely, it would have made more sense to space these two big events out a bit so that we have time to recover! Thanksgiving around May or October would have been great. Instead we just about put the fine China away, only to get it out again a few days later!

Actually on researching Thanksgiving I found that while it is an American tradition, it has taken some time for it to actually take on its modern form. Honest Abe proclaimed that Thanksgiving would be on the last Thursday of November. Then congress passed a law on December 26, 1941 to ensure that all Americans would celebrate a unified Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday of November. Macy’s started their parade in the 1920s and in 1947 the National Turkey Federation started the Turkey pardoning tradition. This is where the incumbent President picks which of two turkeys gets a pass to live the rest of its days on a farm, while the other goes into the oven at 350 degrees for about 5 hours. Out of all the decisions Obama has to make this year, giving a get out of jail card to a turkey must be an interesting distraction.

The first Thanksgiving is thought to have happened in the fall of 1621 and celebrates the survival of the first colonials who made it to American and the generosity of the Native American’s who helped them to cultivate the land. Without Squanto, life in America as we know it potentially would have been very different.

In 1621, the first Thanksgiving lasted 3 days and people ate chicken, fish, lobster, eggs, cabbage and beans. There would have been celebrations, games were played, songs sung and stories told. Now we eat Turkey, pumpkin pie, cornbread and cream spinach after which we get to fall asleep watching the Football or playing Monopoly. By the sounds of it, not much has changed in the last 400 years.

But no matter how people may celebrate the day, the essence of what it represents is important. Ultimately, it makes sense to have a day where you spend some time to be thankful. And after recent events in the North East because of Superstorm Sandy, we feel more than ever very thankful to still be in one piece when we know that so many others will not be celebrating the holiday this year.

So on Thursday morning, we’ll have some “special” donuts for breakfast, Pop the Turkey in the oven, entertain some friends and family during the day, and give our “special” boys big hugs as often as we can. After all they are the things we are most thankful for!

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