Thanksgiving 2013: A Good-Hearted Holiday

Next Monday is Thanksgiving Day in Canada so this is my weekly column welcoming the holiday of food and family and blessings. I am going to count this as my first post on blessings:

Thanksgiving Day Greetings

Thanksgiving Day Greetings (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

 “Thanksgiving, after all, is a word of action.”  ~ W. J. Cameron

            We all look forward to a long weekend, but a long weekend that includes Thanksgiving Day is just that little bit more special. There is a lovely nostalgia to the holiday and it is one that merely asks us to gather together, feast, and give thanks. In her book, “Family Traditions”, Elizabeth Berg says, “No one has been able to tamper with the essential good-heartedness of Thanksgiving Day, or to trivialize it; and probably no one ever will. For that alone, we can be grateful.”

            Thanksgiving does seem to be the one pure holiday left, unfettered by blatant and constant commercialization. We do not need special clothes to give thanks—our Sunday best or best jeans will do. We may send a card or two to special relatives far away, but there is no need for gifts. What is expected is that we gather together and feast on the harvest. And be thankful for family and friends and food. Back to the basics of life – camaraderie and feasting.

            I love the word feast—it has an old world feel to it that appropriately defines the groaning board that is our Thanksgiving. Most of us pull out all the stops for our Thanksgiving meal—almost in an attempt to be thankful for everything. Berg said her “grocery policy at Thanksgiving time is this: BUY EVERYTHING.” I guess her thinking is that if we are going to count our blessings, we should have lots to count.

            She also tells the story of the Thanksgiving when her father, somewhat of a gourmand, tampered with the menu. People politely “put a few crumbs of his oyster dressing on their plates, then relieved, stacked up high beside it the cornbread dressing we always have.” The two key words here are “always have”. We seem to have deep traditions when it comes to the Thanksgiving meal, and though cooking turkey is a bit more adventurous for me that I usually like to be, in the name of tradition and all things Thanksgiving, I serve turkey.

            Thanksgiving and tradition seem to go hand in hand. We all have our own special rituals and customs that it just wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without. But I still think we can mix it up a bit and add something new to our old repertoire without taking away from the celebration. Over the years we have always celebrated Thanksgiving with the traditional dinner, but one year we went to the Point and cooked breakfast on Thanksgiving morning; another year we went to an apple orchard and picked apples, all the while our youngest son was wishing everyone a “Happy Turkey Day” much to the embarrassment of his older brother; some years we share our feast with others and sometimes it is just our family.

            Every Thanksgiving is unique but always with familiar elements. The word Thanksgiving itself is as Cameron quoted above says “a word of action.” In our celebration of the event we give thanks for our blessings. The day makes us more mindful of what we are grateful for and in being mindful we are being attentive to the things we tend to take for granted.

            Recognizing and appreciating what we have is the gift of Thanksgiving. And, if like Berg, we “Buy Everything” at the grocery store this one time of year, we are doing so to celebrate the plenty that is available to us.

            I will end with the first verse of The Thanksgiving Song by Mary Chapin Carpenter. The simple yet meaningful words encompass Thanksgiving for me:

            “Grateful for each hand we hold

            Gathered round this table

            From far and near we travel home

            Blessed that we are able.”

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Published in: on October 7, 2013 at 5:47 pm  Comments (41)  
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41 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Happiest of Thanksgivings and blessings Lou..

  2. I recently heard it said that all around the world people are praying for the things that we take for granted. How true that is! It has stuck with me and as Thanksgiving approaches, it reminds me of how very much we have to be thankful for.

  3. We dont have them here but may your day be a good one…. ;)

  4. Your words about Thanksgiving being a pure holiday is a great point. The first quote also hit me/

  5. Love the last verse….happy Thanksgiving Lou.

    • thanks sister dear–I have both a ham and a turkey for the occasion as both are on sale!

  6. Happy Thanksgiving. I’m curious — do you eat the same foods as we do here in the U.S., or does the menu ever feature any uniquely Canadian dishes?

    • what a good question — but nothing uniquely Canadian comes to mind–turkey and stuffing, gravy and mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes or squash, and of course pumpkin pie–my cousin is making pumpkin pecan pie for me so I am looking forward to that — I do notice that in the States a lot of people have cornbread dressing and that is not something I am really familiar with

  7. Hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving, it is not really an Australian custom :)

    Cheers
    CCU

  8. I’m very thankful that my son and his girlfriend are coming home from college/university for Thanksgiving :). Yayyy!!!! I’m not sure which day we will be celebrating yet because we have to get everyone coordinated, but it doesn’t matter as long as we are all together. Are your boys coming home?

    • yes – we should all be here–like you I am looking forward to it–been a long six weeks

  9. Oh wow – Thanksgiving already!
    Have a fun prepping for the big feast, family, & friends :)

  10. Happy Thanksgiving Lou! Hope it was a fabulous holiday. :)

    • or will be–it is on the 14th–I had to write this ahead of time for the newspaper

      • Oops, I missed the date on this one! Hope your holiday will be fabulous. :)

      • that is easy to do–thanks for the good wishes

  11. Beautiful thoughts about a very special and traditional time… BTW I know that good cooks with their favourite and special recipes for stuffing will gasp…but we buy a pre-stuffed frozen turkey and love the simplicity of cooking it…. Diane

    • that is exactly what I do and the stuffing is good–I would never have believed it–no thawing is what I love–I am glad you revealed your secret

  12. I enjoyed reading the contextual information about Thanksgiving. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

  13. Happy Thanksgiving Lou!

    • thanks so much–long time no see–must come over for a visit

      • Yes,off-late , I do not receive your posts in my reader so had to really hunt for you in the crowd. Glad I found you back.

      • me too, I found you back too

  14. Thank goodness Thanksgiving exists! With all the commercialization, it’s a wonder that it has prevailed. Lovely blessing blog. Feel happy to read this today.

  15. Happy Thanksgiving, lovely article. I enjoyed your story of spending Thanksgiving at the point for breakfast and your son wishing everyone Happy Turkey Day. That would have been my youngest too. Our Thanksgiving has become more traditional than different. I spend it visiting my son and his family where we have the same foods, although his wife makes a different dessert each year), playing with the little one, watching football and his wife and I completing the puzzles in the newspaper together. It works for me.

    • It sounds like an absolutely lovely time–Thanksgiving is really such a family time

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