My turn

Let's not forget Thanksgiving and the fellowship it recalls

2013-11-28T00:00:00Z Let's not forget Thanksgiving and the fellowship it recallsBy Gayle Faulkner Kosalko Times Columnist
November 28, 2013 12:00 am  • 

There's Christmas music on the radio already and I found Christmas items on display when I went out to find Halloween decorations.

Let's face it, poor old Thanksgiving is given short shrift these days. Thanksgiving is becoming the meal we eat right before running out to begin Christmas shopping because Black Friday has now become Black Thursday. Pretty soon we'll be reduced to just having Thanksgiving breakfast, because some stores are opening at 8 a.m. Thursday.

FDR would be pleased, for you see, in 1939, he decreed Thanksgiving always be held on the fourth Thursday of November, instead of the last Thursday of the month, which is what Abe Lincoln had declared in 1863. Lincoln obviously hadn't been asked by the National Retail Dry Goods Association for any favors.

But Roosevelt made the change to add that extra week of Christmas shopping to the calendar in order to help the economy. In this day and age, perhaps our President will have to move Thanksgiving to the fourth Thursday in May so we can really help boost the economy.

Little did the Pilgrims and their helpful Indian neighbors foresee any of this happening as they were busy preparing a meal for a feast that actually lasted three days. Many of the foods they made were introduced to them by the Massasoit.

What we consider a typical Thanksgiving menu today is not actually what was served that first holiday. While we refer to today as "Turkey Day," in those days it would more likely have been dubbed "Duck Day," which conjures visions of dozens of Pilgrims and Indians running around with their arms over their heads. Duck, or some waterfowl, was the main course.

They didn't have mashed potatoes either or green bean casserole with Duke onions. Nor was there pumpkin pie for dessert. Historically, this was either because they used pumpkins as a roasted vegetable or because they had no access to a Sara Lee outlet. Either way, since Cool Whip wasn't invented until 1967, it would have been a moot point.

They did serve all kinds of seafood, such as lobster and clams, so perhaps the meal wasn't as savage as it seemed.

When the Massoits came to visit, they didn't come empty handed. They brought along five slain deer as a hostess gift. Perhaps that's where the tradition of spending a few "bucks" on an obligatory holiday present originated.

Interestingly enough, after dinner the Pilgrims and the Indians spent the rest of the day playing games. It is said that in addition to singing and dancing, all the men would go off with their bows for hours of leisurely target practice.

One historian of the period wrote, "The men would exercise their arms." We carry on this fine tradition still today. . .as men hand the remote back and forth to switch between different football games.

So I say to you, as John Wayne might have put it, "Happy Thanksgiving, Pilgrim!"

The opinions are solely those of the writer. She can be reached at

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