It’s Thanksgiving, one of the most cherished and well-celebrated holidays in the U.S.
It’s also one of the oldest holidays commemorated by Americans. A celebration of a successful corn harvest, survival, commonalities, and gratitude to God, the first ‘Thanksgiving’ in November 1621 gave birth to a national tradition that continues faithfully 391 years later.
Of course the holiday has picked up some contemporary accoutrements…
Like the almost-as-good-as-Wimbledon’s-centre-court Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, begun in 1924. Between the two events, I might even choose being squashed by 3+ million other spectators over enjoying strawberries and clotted cream courtside.
And, of course, we can’t forget the 1920 marriage between Turkey Day and the only ‘football’ game that counts. The Thanksgiving Classic formalized the enjoyment of sport alongside turkey.
(Sorry, soccer fans, but there’s nothing like a pair of shoulder pads – not the 80’s kind – and a completed pass…try and tell me you don’t feel a rush when you witness the 99-yard pass in this clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BpIcf2eE2T4…ahhh, ‘tis a beautiful thing…combine this with a stomach over-intoxicated by the culinary Thanksgiving cocktail, and you have near-paradise on Earth.)
Then there is that other sport which is synonymous with ‘Thanksgiving,’ the activity that infuses passion or abject fear, depending on who is doing the picking and who is doing the paying:
The Friday after Thanksgiving, or Black Friday as it is known, is the busiest shopping day of the year in the U.S. It is the opportunity to test out one’s shopping skills under the most challenging of circumstances (if you think it’s crowded during the Macy’s parade, try shopping on Black Friday).
(Of course, it is also the chance to view abundant, glorious Christmas decorations and be engulfed by the first wave of holiday spirit and cheer.)
It’s not all about personal gratification, though. It is also common for people to take time out of their busy schedules and volunteer to help those less fortunate. Delivering or serving food to those in need is a custom that has become a tradition in many families, involving members both big and small.
But, first, of course, there is the food: the magnificent turkey, savory stuffing, light and fluffy mashed potatoes, rich gravy, tangy cranberry sauce, and creamy pumpkin pie, just to name a few Thanksgiving favorites.
And, of course, the centerpiece of the Thanksgiving table:
So, even though I won’t be serving up turkey (in Turkey, no less! sorry, but it had to be said) this Thanksgiving Day… and over the weekend there will be no American football…or shopping…(although there will be a bit of family volunteering at our school’s International Day)…
…there will be gratitude.
A lot of it.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!
P.S. One thing I am grateful for is that I still have a car. Last night I handed my keys over to a total stranger who appeared out of nowhere when I pulled over to a nondescript side of the road in quaint-but-parking-challenged Bebek and answered my “Nerede parking?” with a laminated card and a waiting, open palm. As I was desperate to make a 7pm meeting, I willingly handed him my keys. Hindsight being what it is, that may not have been such a smart idea. On the other hand, never underestimate the credibility conveyed by a laminated card.