Thanksgiving is a holiday grounded by legends from many sources. We Americans set the day aside for a special celebration as it has become, at least in “normal” times, a day for families and friends to get together, probably eat too much, and give thanks for any number of things. The following are some facts and myths about this, one of our most popular holidays:

– You think we invented Thanksgiving? If you were an ancient Greek, you worshipped many gods and goddesses who were thankfully honored each autumn with grains at the festival of Thesmosphoria; that was a couple thousand years ago.

 – While we think the Pilgrims celebrated the first American Thanksgiving, others in the New World disagree. One example, in Texas there was found a marker that says, “Feast of the First Thanksgiving – 1541.”

 – It’s normally assumed that the Plymouth Pilgrims dined with the Wampanoag Indians for their first Thanksgiving, somewhere between September 21 and November 9, 1621. The celebration lasted for three days and included the feasting on corn, barley and fowl (wild turkeys, waterfowl, and venison).

 –  The first national celebration date was actually declared in 1775 by the Continental Congress, to politically celebrate the win at Saratoga during the American Revolution.

 – In 1863, two national days were declared for Thanksgiving – another political one, to celebrate the Union victory at the Battle of Gettysburg, and the other to originate the general holiday we celebrate today.

 – Since Harry Truman, every president has pardoned a turkey for the holiday.

 – Benjamin Franklin thought the turkey was so American it should’ve been chosen as our nation bird rather than the eagle.

Sometimes, we like to think of the celebration with tongue-in-cheek. Here is one person’s suggestion for how not to cook a turkey:

 – Go buy a turkey.

 –  Take a drink of whiskey.

 – Put turkey in the oven.

 – Take two more drinks of whiskey.

 – Set the oven to 375 degrees.

 – Take 3 more whiskeys.

 – Turk the basty.

 – Whisky another bottle of get.

 – Ponder the meat thermometer.

 – Glass yourself a pour of whiskey.

 – Bake the whiskey for 4 hours.

 – Take the oven out of the turkey.

 – Floor the turkey up off the pick.

 – Turk the carved.

 – Get another scuttle of botch.

 – Tet the sable and pour yourself a glass of turkey.

 – Bless the dinner and pass out.

When asked to write a composition entitled “What I’m thankful for on Thanksgiving, a student wrote: “I am thankful today that I’m not a turkey.”

A lady was picking through the frozen turkeys at the grocery store, but couldn’t find one big enough for her family. She asked the stock boy, “Do these turkeys get any bigger?”  “No, ma’am,” he replied; they’re all dead.”  

Jack Prelutsky wrote this poem about an unpleasant Thanksgiving experience:

The turkey shot out of the oven

And rocketed into the air;

it knocked every plate off the table

and partly demolished a chair.

It ricocheted into a corner

And burst with a deafening boom.

Then splattered all over the kitchen,

Completely obscuring the room.

It stuck to the walls & the windows;

It totally coated the floor.

There was turkey attached to the ceiling,

Where there’d never been turkey before.

It blanketed every appliance,

It smeared every saucer and bowl;

there wasn’t a way I could stop it,

That turkey was out of control.

I scraped and scrubbed with displeasure

And thought with chagrin as I mopped

That I’d never again stuff a turkey

With popcorn that hadn’t been popped.

How about a few positive reasons for being thankful on this day:

 – The mess to clean up after the party because it means I have been surrounded by friends.

 – The taxes I pay because it means that I amp employed.

 – The clothes that fit snug because it means I had enough  to eat.

 –  All the complaining I heard about our government because it means we have freedom of speech.

 – My huge winter heating bill because it means I am warm.

 – The lady in church who sings off key because it means that I can hear.

 –  The piles of laundry and ironing because it means I have plenty of clothes to wear.

 – Weariness and aching muscles at the end of the day because it means I have been productive.

 – The alarm that goes off in early morning hours because it means that I’m alive.

 – Getting too much e-mail that blogs me down because it tells me I have friends thinking of me.

And, finally: The year has turned its circle, the reasons come and go. 

The harvest all is gathered in and chilly North winds blow.

Orchards have shared their treasures, the fields, their yellow grain. 

So open wide the doorway to realize that – virus or not – Thanksgiving has come again!

In mask and gloves when necessary, Happy Tom Turkey Day!


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