Last week’s introduction to Serving 1 of Stuffed focused primarily on the story. This week I guess I should say a few words about the day itself, Thanksgiving, but what I should say is harder to figure out.
There’s the obvious. Thanksgiving is a national holiday, one celebrated in North America. In Canada it takes place on the second Monday of October while it has traditionally been celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November in the United States.
And there’s the symbolism and history, both usually connected to Plymouth in the state of Massachusetts. Although no one knows the exact date, the first Thanksgiving was a harvest celebration that took place in Plymouth in 1621. Two years later the first recorded religious thanksgiving day occurred in the same place.
After that, days of thanks were celebrated at different times and places in the different colonies and states. The first national day of thanks in the United States was apparently celebrated at the urging of President Abraham Lincoln in 1863. But it wasn’t until December 26, 1941, that President Franklin Roosevelt signed a bill into law setting the fourth Thursday of November as the official date.
But here I’m mostly just repeating what can easily be found on Wikipedia. What you may be wondering is what Thanksgiving means for Americans; and, as with many things, it’s not always easy to say these days.
As everything becomes more commercialized in America, some people will tell you Thanksgiving’s the day Black Friday sales begin; or the traditional kickoff to the Christmas season and all the buying and selling that comes with that. For children Thanksgiving may be best known as the day when American Presidents pardon the national turkey.
By the way, that may not happen this year because it’s hard to know which turkey President Obama should be pardoning: Donald Trump, Ben Carson, or one of the lesser Republican turkeys seeking to replace him. We use to think both turkeys and Republicans were dumb. These days that’s much in dispute when it comes to turkeys, but perhaps I digress.
More traditionally, Thanksgiving is a day when families gather together to catch up with loved ones they may not have seen in a while; to talk a little politics or to watch a parade, usually on television (the first Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade was held in 1924); to view multiple games of American football over the course of the day; and to eat lots of food, with turkey being the traditional centerpiece of the dining table.
Yes, you heard me right; not all turkeys are granted a Presidential pardon on Thanksgiving Day 😀
While it’s happy day for most Americans, there are some for whom the day is bittersweet indeed. Native Americans are one such group. Often, as in last week’s image, they’re depicted as celebrating the first Thanksgiving Day with the Pilgrims at Plymouth Plantation; and while that almost certainly happened, the relationship between them and the English settlers soon deteriorated into conflict and war.
Those wars pretty much foretold the fate of all Native Americans as settlers pushed across the continent relentlessly. Today one wonders what Native Americans would celebrate other than their own demise at the hands of the English colonists who seized their lands and kept pushing them further west and north until there was no place left for them?
LGBTQ folk are another community with mixed feelings about the holiday, especially some of the older members of the community I’ve talked to. For many of them Thanksgiving was nothing more than a time to recall how they were the black sheep of the family, the outcasts; the people other members of the family tolerated that one day but generally refused to acknowledge or accept because of their sexuality.
And yet, having suggested Thanksgiving is a much more complex holiday than we like to think, it’s also a holiday I love; less for the food, entertainment, and sales than for the opportunity to get together with friends and loved ones.
That’s one of the reasons I wrote Stuffed, to remind everyone all of us do have things to give thanks for each year whether or not we celebrate them with a holiday. Want to know more about Thanksgiving? In addition to the links above, take a look at this site and this one. They should provide enough details to satisfy anyone.
In the meantime, Serving 2 of the story is available for consumption. Have fun reading and be sure to let me know what you think.