Freedom From Want    NARA   513539

A Traditional Thanksgiving Day

Happy Thanksgiving! With all of the red and green decorations going up, holiday music playing on the radio, and Santa Claus at the mall, it may seem like Thanksgiving is minor festival that we have to get through before we can really dive into Christmas. In truth, it’s one of our biggest celebrations, and the day for which the most people travel to visit family. Many people count it as their favorite holiday ahead of Christmas (all the food, none of the gift-buying stress). If you’d like to learn about the history of Thanksgiving and some of the traditional foods Americans eat, please see an earlier post here.

This year we thought we would share some of the ways we Americans tend to spend the day. It often begins with Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, which has been held in New York City since 1924, and is broadcast on NBC from 9:00am-12:00pm. It features enormous balloons of popular characters and various performances from well-known professionals to high school groups from around the country. It ends with the appearance of Santa Claus on his sleigh.

While many people enjoy this leisurely start to the day, others want to get out and do some physical activity before an afternoon and evening of feasting. In most areas you can find a “Turkey Trot” where you can get in a few miles of walking or running to justify that second (or third, or fourth) slice of pie. Football is a big part of Thanksgiving, so some Americans play an early morning game with friends or family before watching the pro’s go at it later in the day.

Back at home, it’s time to get to the cooking and the football watching. Thanksgiving is a day for professional football (as opposed to New Year’s Day, which is for college football). The National Football League will air three games starting at 12:30pm. Traditionally, the image has been of women slaving away in the kitchen while the men relax with a beer watching the game; but as more women have become die-hard football fans, and more men have found that they enjoy cooking, the day has become less segregated. Do you see now why we need those open concept floor plans in our houses?

Around 3:00 or 4:00 we sit down to the feast. It may begin with going around the table so that everyone can share what they have been thankful for that year. Then there is a prayer of thanks for the food and all of the blessings enjoyed over the past twelve months, and we spend about twenty minutes devouring the food we’ve spent hours and hours preparing. Next, we unbutton our pants and take a break from eating while we clean up and watch more football, and then it’s time for that pie that we ran/walked/played football to earn.

Family is an important part of Thanksgiving, which can be wonderful, but can also cause anxiety for those who can’t be with their families, or whose families can be, well, challenging. People without family around may arrange a “Friendsgiving,” gathering up any Thanksgiving orphans and enjoying the day together.  Those who may wish they were orphans get through the day as best they can, and perhaps enjoy a drink or two after everyone has dispersed.

Whether you choose to celebrate like a traditional American, or to opt out and relax at the beach while the rest of us are cooking and eating like mad people, Wetzel Services wishes you a wonderful Thanksgiving!