How do you celebrate Thanksgiving? Last Saturday, while listening to The Nutcracker and retrieving Christmas decorations from the attic in preparation for installing exterior illumination, I thought about how friends and family would celebrate Thanksgiving. In this diverse land, how do others celebrate, and why are some traditions a part of nearly everyone’s holiday? So, how do you celebrate Thanksgiving?

How Do You Celebrate Thanksgiving?

How Did It Begin?

The credit for Thanksgiving in America goes to the 53 surviving pilgrims who celebrated the harvest in the autumn of 1619. Harvest celebrations were a common European tradition. The Spanish celebrated Thanksgiving (a harvest celebration) in St. Augustine, Florida, on September 8th, 1565, and the French in Canada as early as 1578.

Why Do We Celebrate On The fourth Thursday of November?

In 1863, Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the last weekend in every November to be a day of Thanksgiving. However, it wasn’t until December 26th, 1941, when Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the bill, officially declaring the fourth Thursday of every November “Thanksgiving Day.” FDR campaigned for several years for an earlier observance; however, Congress didn’t pass it.

He was trying to bolster the economy with a more extended shopping period. I wonder what he would think of Black Friday? BTW, Canada celebrates Thanksgiving on the second Monday of October. So does that mean Christmas advertising begins before Halloween in Canada? Oh, Canada, Oh, Canada, where days are short and shopping’s long.

Do You Travel? You Are Not Alone

“Nearly 49 million people are expected to travel by car. While Thanksgiving road trips have slightly risen – up 0.4% from 2021 – car travel remains 2.5% below 2019 levels. In 2009, 42 million Americans traveled 50 miles or more on Thanksgiving weekend.” — MorningStar News. It’s estimated 4 to 5 million will drive rather than submit to a TSA cavity search. (I made that up, but it could be true). Actually, air flight is up over 2019, and automobile travel is predicted to increase as well. And speaking of being up — gas prices, currently in the $3.80 range, are expected to continue rising through the holidays.

What about the Food?

Six hundred seventy-five million pounds of turkey meat and several millions of pounds of pumpkin, cranberries, and sweet potatoes are consumed on Thanksgiving Day in America. According to several sites – all of them wanting to help me lose those unwanted pounds and endless dollars they think I have – Americans consume 5000 to 6000 calories on Thanksgiving. In many parts of the world, 6000 calories are enough to feed a small village.

Are You Ready for some Football?

The first Thanksgiving professional football game was held on the last Thursday in November 1934 in Detroit. It was broadcast on a radio network assembled by NBC. Although Detroit went into the game with a 10-1 record, Chicago won 19-16, thus beginning Detroit’s long tradition of losing on Thanksgiving Day. You should ask my family about when I turned off the TV so we could converse. I don’t think we ever had Thanksgiving at my home again.

You Have To Watch The Parade or some of it

The Macy’s Holiday Parade was founded in 1924. This year the New York City parade features 16 giant balloons, 28 floats, 12 marching bands, musical stars, and the real Santa Claus. Specialty groups – like the NYPD motorcyclists, performance groups, school bands, clown teams, and celebrity talents fill the route. It takes three hours to complete, so you have plenty of time to watch a bit.

Other Traditions

Do you take a nap? Studies show it’s probably not tryptophan; however, it is the turkey, pie, mashed potatoes with giblet gravy, rolls, and sweet potatoes all consumed at once. How about that forced family fun time? Do you try to put the “functional” in the dysfunctional family? Watch the movie Home for the Holidays to see how that works.

Oh, And Don’t Forget To Give Thanks

Yes, sometimes we forget the meaning of Thanksgiving. It’s simple but often overlooked in all the traditions steeped in turkey gravy. It’s to give thanks, show gratitude, and appreciate what we have. Happy Thanksgiving!

Photo by Libby Penner on Unsplash