While many of our readers are Americans and know all about Thanksgiving, having celebrated it their entire lives, I realized not long ago that our readership is not restricted to the US. A number of Turks, whether students or acquaintances through another means read it with some frequency. Then there is the ex-pat community here that we have made friends with who come from Australia, New Zealand and England, so perhaps not everybody really knows all that much about Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving is about four main things.
As with any holiday, getting together with family is ideal (provided yours isn’t crazy and maybe even if it is). Aside from Christmas and perhaps Easter, Thanksgiving is the time when extended families do their best to find themselves all in the same place.
What Thanksgiving is famous for is the food. Each family has its own tradition about what is essential and what is not, but the list goes something like this: Turkey, some form of potato (typically mashed), some form of corn (my family loves scalloped corn), stuffing (arguments on whether it should be homemade or Stove Top), sweet potatoes (with or without marshmallows), green bean casserole, cranberries in some form and pie (pumpkin, apple, cherry, blueberry and peach are the perennial favorites).
It is truly the most food I will eat in a given day. While my daily caloric intake probably never dips much below 3,000, Thanksgiving Day may well reach 10,000.
For decades, the Detroit Lions and the Dallas Cowboys have played separate opponents on Thanksgiving Day. In recent years, the NFL has added a third game at random, which allows for nine hours of football viewing pleasure.
4. Giving thanks
Thanksgiving occurs at the end of November, around the time of year when farmers have finished with their harvests and are preparing for a long winter. While the origins of Thanksgiving might be rooted in a meal shared between the Pilgrims and the Native Americans, that story is more myth than fact it seems.
Farmers who had labored all spring (picking rocks and planting seeds) and summer (removing thorns and watering) and fall (waiting) to bring forth food from the ground for their families now had their abundance and they celebrated, thanking God that he gave them enough to make it through the winter.
Today, we are of course not all farmers. The sustenance of our lives is not dependant on one annual harvest, but on monthly or semi-monthly paychecks.
Growing up on a farm, I knew by the age of eight that I had no intention of being a farmer. My brain was not suited for such things as machinery, taking care of animals and things of that nature. But my heart, my heart will ever remain a farmer’s heart, understanding the difficult of not enough or too much rain, understanding the labor involved in picking rocks, in removing thorns, in planting and watering.
With a farmer’s heart, I understand set backs, delays and waiting. I think every single time I talk to my mom she tells me that something broke or that they are waiting for some crop to dry or that some part had to be ordered from two states away and wouldn’t arrive for another two days.
But most of all, I know what it is to have those set backs, delays and periods of waiting and still find joy in spite of them. I remember many rainy summer days when my dad would sit in the house with us and play cards all day. I remember that even though something was broken, there were still cows to feed and to milk. I remember that in spite of all of those things that can go wrong or not how we plan, there is still work to do. And there is always something to be thankful for.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone.