Once upon a time there lived a ruggedly handsome writer man (me) who loved Thanksgiving. He (I) loved everything about the holiday including the food, gathering with family, the food, watching football, the food, time off from work, more food, the lead into the Christmas/Hanukkah season, dessert, the holiday television specials and, did I mention the food? Our hero (me again) realized that Thanksgiving is not just a time to give thanks, rejoice and eat, but that’s a heck of a good place to start. He/me even enjoyed the history of the holiday. There’s a lot people don’t know much about this marvelous holiday, other than what they learned in elementary school. As a pretend investigative journalist, the following is a brief narrative on the history of my favorite holiday.
The first Thanksgiving Day has been tracked back to the year 1621,when the Pilgrims and Native Americans got together for a raging block party, following the Puritan settler’s first harvest in the New World. This feast lasted three days and was attended by 90 Native Americans and 53 Pilgrims (as accounted by attendee Edward Winslow). I think my high school math teacher may actually have attended as well. The location of the inaugural event was the Plymouth Plantation located somewhere near Plymouth Rock in Massachusetts. It was reported to be a crisp autumn day with light winds off the Atlantic (so says www.weatherhistory.com).
Wikipedia doesn’t state that the day started out with a scaled-down version of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, but I did some research. Apparently, retired plow-horses pulled flat-bed wagons serving as the first floats of the modern era. The blow-up balloon characters (Snoopy, Garfield and the Minions) were just raincoats sewn together which explains the lack of detail and clarity. None of this is probably true, but it makes for a good story—and Wikipedia doesn’t know everything.
Rumor has it the Pilgrims and Indians played a little touch football before dinner on that lovely fall day. Although technically the game of football and footballs themselves had not yet been invented, so when it was reported that they threw the old pigskin around it was an actual dead pig. This obviously explains why the game was originally called Pig Ball. The pilgrims requested to be called the Patriots and the Native American Indians, while technically having red skin, objected to the team name Redskins due to the derogatory term and the political incorrectness of the lame mascot. The warriors and chiefs instead chose Dolphins as their team name because they liked dolphins. The Patriots supposedly won by a field goal, probably because they cheated. Look it up at www.pigballhistory.com
Immediately following the game, players from the two teams enjoyed a few libations such as Ale and firewater, while scarfing down a fine selection of appetizers including chips and dip, raccoon pizza rolls, possum kabobs and a nice cheese platter consisting of smoked Gouda, Brie, Havarti and of course, goat cheese.
The dinner itself was legendary. Delicacies included roast turkey with stuffing, cranberry sauce, roasted and sweet potatoes and breads. Local vegetables that likely appeared on the table included; onions, corn, squash, various beans, lettuce, spinach, cabbage, carrots and perhaps peas. Seafood dishes might have included lobster, bass, clams, oysters and mussels. The dessert menu assuredly had pumpkin and apple pies, custard, Jello and roasted gourds with a little milk, honey and spices. I love me a good gourd and I found a variety of delectable recipes at www.gourdrecipies.com
There was the obvious post meal nap for most of the men in attendance as the women folk did the dishes and attended to the children. As the night wound down, the pilgrims and Indian families likely watched a humorous puppet show or listened to some melodic banjo and harmonica tunes. I like banjo and harmonica music as much as the next guy—just check out my iTunes account at www.hillbillyturns.com – but living in the modern day, my favorite post food coma activity is watching a good movie. A few movies worth watching on Thanksgiving Day night include While You Were Sleeping (with Sandra Bullock), The Proposal (with Sandra Bullock) and Miss Congeniality (with Benjamin Bratt and Sandra Bullock). You really can’t go wrong with any movie staring Sandy B.
After the inaugural meal, this tradition of holding an annual harvest festival didn’t firmly take root until the late 1660s. It has been celebrated as a Federal Holiday every year since 1863, when, during the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national day of “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.” That undoubtedly seemed a little wordy and too religious so somewhere along the line it was taken down to simply a day of “Giving Thanks.” In a recent interview, Donald Trump said that it was his idea. The actual “day and date” that we celebrate on has also been somewhat floating, usually taking place sometime in the late October to mid-November time frame. It wasn’t until 1941 that President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a joint resolution of Congress proclaiming the fourth Thursday of November the official day. This likely coincided with school kids needing a few days off so their tiny brains didn’t explode between Halloween and Christmas.
By the time you read this article, you’ll undoubtedly be planning your Thanksgiving Day menu and decorating the house with cornucopias and belt buckle hats. It should be stated that this ruggedly handsome writer and his family don’t have any plans and are available to join in a lucky reader’s family festivities. We usually go out of town to visit friends during the long holiday weekend, but because of previously scheduled commitments we will be around. What could be more fun than sharing your holiday fun with a guy who loves everything Thanksgiving? It would make a great new chapter in the Thanksgiving Day story.