Thanksgiving has long been my favorite holiday perhaps due to the fact that after being born on a Sunday I came home from the hospital on Thanksgiving Thursday (which was on Nov. 22 in 1973 as it is this year). Thanksgiving was a holiday my family celebrated with more gusto than Christmas, and we always seemed to do something different. Sometimes we celebrated with the grandparents in Brooklyn, sometimes we feasted with the grandparents in Pennsylvania, once we visited cousins in Philadelphia, often we hosted people at our home or had it be just us (which was often the best way).
When I was little we watched the Thanksgiving Day parade from my dad’s office building in New York (at balloon’s eye view), later we watched it on tv. Once we drove in to the city but got there too late for the parade but ate dinner at Tavern on the Green (note: Thanksgiving dinner at Tavern on the Green isn’t that good). Usually my mom did the cooking – turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and mmm-mashed potatoes. One year I fondly remember roasting cocktail wieners in the fireplace (although I should note that this did not replace Thanksgiving dinner, this was a light meal the night before).
Other great Thanksgiving traditions include watching King Kong, Son of Kong, and Mighty Joe Young on TV. Then there’s the annual listening to “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree” the official song of Thanksgiving. One year my mother proved on a drive up I-95 that the song is actually longer than the state of Delaware. What other holiday has traditions so delightfully odd?
New Englanders are rightly proud to be the originators of Thanksgiving as in this blog post It All Started Here. Then again, Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub points out that Texas Was Thankful First. Berekeley Plantation in Virginia also lays claim to primacy in celebrating Thanksgiving. This all boils down to a modern day misunderstanding of the purpose of a day of Thanksgiving in the colonial era where it was a day proclaimed to solemnly commemorate a particular event to be thankful for such as a successful harvest. The Separatist Pilgrims who settled in Plymouth would never want to institute an annual event. So I think the real credit for the first Thanksgiving, the American holiday, goes to Abraham Lincoln who proclaimed Thanksgiving in 1863.
I have a lot to be thankful this year especially for my family which has grown by one this month, my friends, a new home, and an all-around safe, healthy, content life. Amen!