The Star-News


Season is not over until the turkey is gone

Sat, Nov 26 2011 12:00 PM Posted By: Richard Peña

Thanksgiving seems to have snuck up on us this year. We are usually comfortable when it comes around in the latter part of the month. But, of course, if we are going to comply with the calendar it has to appear a little early once in a few years.
To me this really makes little difference. I approach Thanksgiving as a season, rather than as one day, hence, if I am one day late in making my Thanksgiving comments so be it.  Someone once asked me how long is the Thanksgiving Season.  A reasonable reply, said in jest, might be as long as there is turkey left in the refrigerator.  Or, perhaps, it should be the entire year.
I joined a group of Bonita Kiwanians the other day at the Vons shopping center in Eastlake. The occasion was the annual distribution of Thanksgiving baskets to some 30 families.
The Kiwanians have teamed with Vons grocery store for the past few years in delivering all the requirements needed for a Thanksgiving feast—including a turkey—to a few folks who, because of circumstances, might not have had anything. 
I suppose that, for me, this was the beginning of the Thanksgiving Season. To see the smiles and other evidence of appreciation and thanks from the folks receiving such items puts meaning in the season. For a little while, anyway, things seem to be looking up.
Those who regularly read this space might know that I have a bit more than a vested interest in Thanksgiving. I have noted, perhaps more than once, that I was born on Thanksgiving Day and over the years my birthday has occurred on that day something like every seven years.  My parents always made Thanksgiving Day a big occasion. There was always the big feast. This was usually crowned by that big turkey that had been roaming the backyard for some weeks previous.  He met his demise—something I never recall witnessing—a few days before the big day and was surrounded by all the traditional side dishes that made the meal complete.
When I was young, and perhaps not too bright, I thought all the fuss and ado was because of my birthday.  And since no one told me differently I suppose I was justified in that assumption.  It is for that reason that I have forever been  thankful for those folks who thought up the day and perpetuated it in our calendar.  From the early settlers and their Indian tribe friends through the ages to the present day folks like the Kiwanis the day, and its meaning have never wavered.
There are many stories that have been told about the early days of Thanksgiving. The one I like the best is the one about Sara Josepha Hale, without whom, we may not have this great day. Her tale expresses not only what one person may accomplish when dedicated to a goal but also the power of the press when it is used wisely.
Hale, to refresh one’smemory, was a magazine editor during the days of the Civil War.  I don’t know too much about her publication but I would suspect it was something like our modern Ladies Home Journal, or others of that type.
Through her magazine our fearless editor got out the word.  A letter writing blitz descended on the White House, mostly from ladies, who read the magazine.  They all carried the same message, “We need a day of Thanksgiving.”  Things at the time were not going too well for the nation.  President Lincoln had the usual problems confronting a wartime president, and, because of inept generals the war was going badly.  So, like the good leader that he was, he probably said, “Let’s go for it,” and lo, we had ourselves a Thanksgiving Day.
The idea of a Thanksgiving season is not Lincoln’s but mine.  I think it should be more than one day.  And if there is anyone out there who espouses to the turkey in the fridge concept, remember that a 20 pound bird lasts longer than a 12 pound one.


© 2009 The Star-News