Thursday 25 November 2010
Thankful for Thanksgiving
My goodness, what a day it’s been, what a day I’ve had. It was Thanksgiving, the American harvest festival. The roots allegedly go all the way back to the first Thanksgiving celebrated by the Pilgrim Fathers, though as a national holiday it really only extends back to a proclamation issued by Abraham Lincoln in 1863.
There was actually a political reason for this, one, I note, that does not appear in the Wikipedia article on the subject. It shifted the national focus away from those nasty rebel cavaliers in the South to the earnest puritans of the North! The thing is the much lauded Pilgrim fathers were not the first white settlers in North America, an honour that belongs to the community established at Jamestown in Virginia, clearly not something that Lincoln wanted to draw too much attention to, given the circumstances of the time.
Anyway, my family, as English as they come, celebrate Thanksgiving also, always held on the last Thursday in November. I came down from university specifically for the occasion, bringing some homesick American friends with me, to join others, friends and colleagues of mother and father. We had a splendid time, fourteen of us to dinner, the traditional Thanksgiving feast of turkey and all the lovely American trimmings, all washed down with an excellent Californian vintage. And for pudding, what else but pumpkin pie! Actually, I made this myself. It's one of my favourite puddings, something I really enjoy preparing. Pastry handmade, mind you, no dreadful supermarket elastic! The turkey is no hardship so close to Christmas because we, by our own tradition, always have goose, pheasant or capon then, or occasionally fresh salmon for a change.
So, why, you might ask, does an English family take part in an American festival? Well for one thing we in England have long lost or own harvest festival tradition, rather a pity in so many ways. But more to the point mother and father lived in America for a long time before I was born. In fact it’s where they met for the first time. Our family has so many American friends and, as I've said previously, I spent a great deal of time travelling backwards and forwards to Georgia when I was growing up. It seemed natural to adopt Thanksgiving as our holiday also, which only helps to brighten up November, the most dismal month on the calendar. So thank goodness for Thanksgiving. What about the 4th of July, you may ask, do we celebrate that also? No, we are still English and that might be going a tad too far! What would King George think? :-)
Now I’m tired, emotional and off to bed!