In the words of a famous Dutch hymn commonly sung at Thanksgiving, “we gather together” for the holiday next week, not simply to “ask the L-rd’s blessing” and enjoy a delicious meal, but also to recognize the “ever watchful providence of Almighty G-d,” in accordance with President Lincoln’s 1863 Thanksgiving Proclamation.
Thanksgiving 2008 will be at The Residence, with our extended family present as usual. We’ve hosted Thanksgiving before, but there’s one significant difference this year, something we’ve never featured before… a fresh, free-range, natural-grain-fed, vegetable-protein-nourished, undoubtedly flavorful turkey… which will be shipped overnight from a ranch in California to arrive at our door this Tuesday morning. If it doesn’t show up, I don’t know what we’ll do. I’m pretty sure we could have flown to Santa Rosa and picked it up ourselves for the same price. However, the reviews from previous ‘free range’ bird customers *promise* that it will “roast to perfection” and be the “best turkey we’ve ever had.” Sounds like we can’t go wrong. 😉
Even though we’re excited this year about, well, a turkey, we are continually dismayed to hear people refer to this holiday as Turkey Day. Perhaps symbolic of our country’s ‘growing’ obsession with food, eliminating the word “thanksgiving” in favor of “Turkey Day” seems to ignore everything this holiday stands for, focusing attention on the traditional menu, of all things! No one knows if the Pilgrims even ate turkey at their famous feast, although they definitely had deer (“Venison Day,” anyone?).
One of Julianna’s piano students is in a Thanksgiving play this year… and what is her part? She’s the Pumpkin Pie… no doubt joining Cranberry Sauce, Sweet Potatoes, and Stuffing as they reenact the dinner table! So much for the historical events of 1621 and 1863.
A friend of mine recently moved here from Israel, and a few weeks ago as we talked about plans for Thanksgiving she mentioned that she had been asking people (Americans!) what this holiday was about – and no one seemed to know the purpose behind having a large celebratory meal on the fourth Thursday in November. I thought that was sad… maybe even tragic.
There are plenty of myths surrounding our understanding of Thanksgiving, but regardless of what really happened almost 400 years ago, most of us agree that it’s an excellent opportunity to – what else – give thanks! I think Lincoln’s words should echo around us:
“…gracious gifts of the Most High G-d… reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People… as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father…”
The closing line of ‘We Gather Together’ points this holiday in the right direction… “Sing praises to His Name: He forgets not His own.”