Here in the US, Thanksgiving is still more than a month away. What possessed me to write a post so ahead of its time? It was on October 3rd, 1863, when Abraham Lincoln declared last Thursday of November as Thanksgiving Day. Naturally, it was George Washington who proclaimed Thanksgiving as a national holiday in the 18th century. However, Thomas Jefferson did away with it. Franklin Roosevelt changed Thanksgiving’s date in the 20th century, but ultimately, in 1942, Congress decided to celebrate Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday of November. It has been the case ever since. Lincoln proclaimed Thanksgiving a day during which we should give thanks to our Father in Heaven.
You know how kids have these “My first Christmas” shirts nowadays? I think there is a customized/ personalized outfit available for every occasion. When I was a kid, we did not have any of that. We guess how old we were by the clothes we and others wore, and by random knick-knacks seen in the photo. If we were lucky enough, there was a date written on the back of the photo. That habit was reserved mostly for my grandmothers. My parents and I could not even bring a pen close to the photographs. It seemed like writing in a book. You just do not even dream to do such a thing.
Since I never found a photo in which I am wearing a “This is my first Thanksgiving” short, I cannot be sure what exactly occurred then. Unlike some, I do not remember too much from my early childhood. Because of this, the “first” Thanksgiving for me is the one that I remember.
At that time, we were at a country in which no one celebrated Thanksgiving. It was rather weird to wake up in the morning and be told that it was a holiday. I browsed through the calendar but found no mention. My mother announced there would be turkey for dinner. I shrugged and went off to school – a place in which people had no idea what I was talking about. Most people never even tasted turkey. It made me wonder if maybe my family was weirder than I thought. Maybe we were a cult?
In the evening, the four of us gathered around the table. My mother was disappointed because she was not able to get any cranberry sauce. People looked at her as if she was crazy when she went from store to store looking for ANYTHING cranberry. No one seemed to know what that was. Whole turkeys were not available, which turned out to be a good thing, because you do not need a lot of it for just four people. We shared a couple of legs and wings.
I am not sure if it is a true memory or one that the creative side of me planted, but I seem to remember that there was a year during which we had chicken for Thanksgiving. (It might have even been THAT first Thanksgiving.) Turkey just was not a popular kind of meat, so we took what resembled the turkey the most – chicken.
Before eating, my mother asked everyone to say what they were thankful for. While I do not remember what I actually said, I remember deciding right there and then that I would not like that holiday. I had to spill my feelings? Yuck.
Growing up without turkey meat being easily available, I looked forward to Thanksgiving. Once a year we would get to eat something else. And the dark meat is so tasty. After a while, the fashion for turkeys made it through the border and so we were able to eat it more often. Thanksgiving was not so special anymore. There even are cranberries easily available now.
Even though my family always tried to keep us in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I never really connected with that particular holiday. To this day, this has got to be my least favorite holiday. Please, do not unfollow me because of that. It is not that I do not like it. It is just that I like others more. Christmas is my ultimate favorite. (Feel free to hit that Follow button if you love Christmas, too!)
These days, I celebrate Thanksgiving, as I always have. My family and I gather for dinner. Having a day off work definitely helps. Everything around you helps you get into the Thanksgiving spirit. It is a good time to catch up with family and friends over some good food. If you get to sit at a Thanksgiving table with me someday, please do not ask me what I am thankful for. My answer would most likely be very generic: “I am thankful for you all”. That is not because there is nothing I am thankful for. Quite the contrary, I am thankful for A LOT of things in my life. I praise the Lord for it every. single. day. I tell the people around me that I appreciate them. But when I hear: “Let us go around the table and say what we are thankful for,” I think of cliche Christians who only go to church on Christmas Day. I think of that very first Thanksgiving when I cringed when my mom asked me such a personal question.
It might just be my experience, but I think that Thanksgiving is losing its value. Many people stuff themselves with the food as quickly as they can, and then they are off to stand in line for Black Friday. If you are not a part of that group, you might be a part of the one that does not care about the dinner as much as they care about catching a football game with a beer in hand.
What was your first Thanksgiving like?
What are your thoughts on Thanksgiving?
How do you spend Thanksgiving?
What are you thankful for? (tongue in cheek)
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