My little sidestep—or should I say, misstep—to the emergency room last week, sort of pre-empted any mention, as is my custom, of the coming of fall or of Thanksgiving. But since I, some years back, declared Thanksgiving a season, rather than one day, I don’t think it would throw the calendar off kilter if we brought it up now.
To be truthful I think I would be utterly remiss if I did not bring up the subject. I have always regarded this season as a favorite of mine and very often look forward to it like a little kid anticipates Christmas. For one thing I was born on Thanksgiving Day and my birthday has fallen on that day many times in the past. When I was a youngster I used to think that all the fuss and hoopla that the adult family members went through on Thanksgiving was in honor of me.
Alas, I soon learned in later years that I was playing second fiddle to the turkey that dominated the dining table. Such is fame.
When I look back on it some of the most fulfilling times as a classroom teacher was at Thanksgiving time. There seemed to be a tempo in the system that might have been lacking at other times. Children were more attentive, the teaching staff seemed to be more relaxed and even the man on the street seemed to have a livelier step. Of course, the weather had a lot to do with it. The days of the Santa Anas were behind us and we could feel that magic in the air that seemed to give us an added zip. Ah, life was great.
Most schools, that is, the elementary ones have some sort of celebration at this time. It might be the pageant type, the ones where children are made up like the early settlers with the Pilgrim hats and paper hatchets and symbols of turkeys and other animals about the premises. This generally was culminated with a feast of sorts, cookies and Kool-Aid being the standard fare. This was patterned after what was supposed to be the first Thanksgiving, this occurring in 1621. The early settlers, that autumn, saw a successful harvest and had a feast to celebrate. They invited members of a nearby Indian tribe and, reportedly, a good time was had by all. We wish that we could say that it continued annually but, alas, it fell by the wayside and was not be resurrected until many years later.
For this we have to give credit to the power of the press. The year was 1863 and the nation was in the throes of the Civil War. Things were not going too well for the country, its army and its president, Abraham Lincoln. So one Sara Josepha Hale, a magazine editor started a letter writing campaign to the president calling for a day of Thanksgiving. I suppose that Lincoln might have said something like “…well, why not. Nothing else is working” and Thanksgiving was reborn and this time was here to stay.
Ms. Hale’s magazine was titled Godey’s Lady’s Book and was probably the Ladies Home Journal of its day. She was the publisher as well as the editor. She was noted mostly, however, as an author. She penned, for example, the poem, Mary Had a Little Lamb which is, of course, still around and I daresay recited from time to time.
The real, true reason for Thanksgiving Day is family. It is a time when folks get together, reminisce about times past and, of course, partake of and enjoy the ubiquitous feast that is sure to follow. I am fortunate in that I will have my son David, and his family sharing the day – and the season – with me. Our daughter-in-law, Terri, will be the anointed chef and I will flourish in my role as the family patriarch. It is truly a time to be thankful.