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The Best Known Story: Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is my absolute favorite holiday. It seems to be the only one that remains free from the commercialization of shopping and glamour—even though stores are trying to take that away by opening early for shopping specials. The day is still mostly about the meal and giving thanks—the calm before the chaos we have come to know as Christmas.

When I was thinking about what to post today, I thought of this holiday. In actuality, it is a “story” in and of itself. The initial fable we are told as a child is of the Pilgrims and the Native Americans. The meal marked a peaceful union between the two cultures…at least for a time. Yet, considering how that story ended, I am sure the Native Americans are not holding this holiday up as a time to remember. In fact, if I had to venture an opinion, I would say Thanksgiving continues in the same light it began—the celebration of a harvest in a new world. According to National Geographic, the first thanksgiving wasn’t even about giving thanks. That didn’t come until later, when a drought left the settlers struggling and truly grateful for a harvest. 

Taken from Microsoft ClipArt

Over the years, this story has transformed from two cultures coming together for a time of peace (however short-lived) into a time to gather with friends and family. I think it is Charley Brown that first introduced the idea of Football into the story. Now, it is hard to see a Thanksgiving story on any television program that doesn’t either reference football or at least has the cast members playing. My favorite is the Friends‘ episode where they play for the Geller Cup (a ratty little troll drilled to a board). 

Another staple to the story is the long table piled with food. While the settlers ate deer, corn and shellfish, there is not a single episode that does not mention the turkey. In fact, on the first season of Everybody Loves Raymond, Debra creates quite a stir by making a fish for dinner instead of turkey. I always wonder, however, if Benjamin Franklin got his way and our national bird was the turkey instead of the eagle, would we still be eating fish for thanksgiving?

It seems in every thanksgiving “story,” there is conflict at the beginning and a peaceful dinner at the end. This is interesting because it is quite the opposite in real life, but I like today’s version. Life is tough and we tend to get sidetracked by little things. I know in my family it was where the dinner would be hosted and who was in charge of which course. Yet, it is nice to know that, in the end, the holiday is about appreciation. 

So, if you are celebrating the holiday tomorrow, then I wish everyone safe travels and a happy Thanksgiving. For anyone who does not partake, I wish you all the happiness in self-reflection and true appreciation of this short pleasure we call life.