Friday, November 25, 2011

An American Holiday

Yesterday was Thanksgiving Day, a uniquely American Holiday.
In grade school we learned that the Pilgrims and Indians joined together at a feast, and were shown illlustrations which would forever be imprinted on our brains. Well, nice story, folks, but the Indians and Pilgrims did not join in giving thanks in 1621. Oh, they did gather, but to celebrate a good harvest. It wasn't until Colonial Governor Belcher proclaimed a day in November should be set aside as a day of giving thanks in 1730.

During George Washington's presidency, in 1789, he declared Thursday, November 26 the first officical "A Day of Publick Thanksgiving and Prayer." If that had stuck, tomorrow would be the big day. (Thomas Jefferson opposed the idea of a Day of Thanksgiving). And then, along came Mrs. Sarah Josepha (Buell) Hale, editor of the first women's magazine, Ladies Magazine. She was an advocate of a Day of Thanksgiving to start in 1827. She lobbied (!) several presidents to accomplish her goal, and accomplish it she did. In 1863 Abe Lincoln made it a national holiday, and proclaimed it should be the last Thursday in November. So much for that.

Along came New Dealer, Franklin Roosevelt, who at the urging (lobbying!) of retailers, moved the celebration back a week. But along came John Q. Public, who outraged at the manipulation of a national holiday, succeeded in getting Congress to rule the fourth Thursday in November a national holiday.

So, yesterday, being the fourth Thursday in November 2011, was Thanksgiving Day number 2, 181 by my rough calculation. Turkey is still the bird of choice by tradition, and root vegetables and bread stuffin', pumpkin, apple and mince pies are still the desserts to fill the last vacant nook in the tummy.

I had a delightful day with some of my extended family who were kind enough to put a seat at the table for me. Some of my children are in the south for the holiday. I had other invitations, (nice to be popular and have choices) but there were other "grannies" at this home that I had not seen in awhile.

Scarborough, Maine did not get snow when some of Maine did earleir in the week. Scarborough about nine miles from the home in Falmouth, Maine where I was headed, via the instructions of my Nuvi friend. She directed me to #295, and then north on Bucknam Road. At the next corner, SNOW EVERYWHERE! I mean, hanging on trees, piled up beside the road, covering the open fields. I could not believe my eyes. I looked at the thermometer in my car and it said 42, but nothing was melting. I realized as I made the final couple of turns to reach my destination that, while I did not have to go "Over The River and Through The Woods" I could have come, part way, at least, by sleigh.

Winter in Maine has changed. And yes, it may be due to global warming, which I believe is a reality, but not a catastrophe. I do remember remarking to a friend as recently as 1965 when she was shopping for November birthday gifts, that if the kids didn't skate before Christmas, they wouldn't skate at all because the snow would be on the little pond and everyone would be on skis, toboggans and sleds at the nearest golf course. There is no skatable outdoor ice this year. But the skiers are revelling on the slopes.

SO, GEORGE (WASINGTON, THAT IS) AND I WILL BE CELBRATING and wishing you a HAPPY THANKSGIVING ON SATURDAY NOVEMBER 26, the day which he proclaimed it to be.