Is the picture you conjure in your mind when you think of Thanksgiving Day one from a Lifetime movie complete with a smiling loving family, grouped around a perfectly roasted turkey with gravy, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, cornbread dressing, and butter rolls? And let’s not forget the pie – apple, pumpkin, pecan; just stick it in a crust and I’m there.
No? Not always? Not even close? Maybe more like Mothra vs. Godzilla?
Return with me to the beginning, to the very first American Thanksgiving, where the tradition began. In 1621, after a particularly harsh winter, Governor William Bradford proclaimed the day to commemorate the harvest reaped by the Plymouth Colony. As a gesture of goodwill, the colonists invited the local Wampanoag Indians.
The holiday wasn’t all that quick, however, to catch on. The Continental Congress proclaimed the first national Thanksgiving in 1777, which proved a somber event. Presidents Washington, Adams, and Monroe proclaimed national Thanksgivings but the custom fell out of use by the year 1815 when celebrations were limited to individual states.
The person given credit for the establishment of an annual holiday and known to be called the “God Mother of Thanksgiving,” was Sarah Josepha Buell Hale. Influential editor and author of the nursery rhyme, “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” she began printing articles in the Ladies Magazine of Boston in 1837. She published stories and recipes writing scores of letters to governors, senators and Presidents. It took her 36 years, but in 1863 President Lincoln proclaimed Thanksgiving day to be the 4th Thursday of November. Women have since then, taken badgering to a whole new level. Personally, I’ve been told I could give lessons.
In 1939-41, Franklin D. Roosevelt thought it was important to lengthen the Christmas shopping season, and moved the holiday to the 3rd Thursday in November. In 1941, Congress made it permanent with a joint resolution.
So now that you know how we arrived here, I ask you again.
HOW DO YOU SURVIVE THANKSGIVING WITH YOUR FAMILY?
When the biggest source of holiday stress is the family dinner, the obligations, and the burden of family tradition, prepare yourself to cope by asking what about the stress bothers you.
* Are you harboring unhappy memories relating to your childhood? (I can picture that line circling the globe – twice – behind me.)
* Toxic Relatives – Holidays can put you in close proximity with relatives you intentionally avoid the rest of the year. (You know who they are; we all have them: the aunt with DID – and none of her personalities can hold a conversation, the uncle ready to psychoanalyze anyone within earshot although a plumber by trade.)
* Changes – Holiday gatherings highlight whatever changes occurred in our lives, for better of worse, from divorce to death, whether you want to share or not. It will come up…more then once…count on it.
When you reach that Thursday in November, that Thanksgiving Day, you may want to try one of these:
1. Avoid the subject of politics with anyone over 5 years old, or that doesn’t have 4 legs and a tail. It will just bring you grief.
2. For down time, get a relative’s child involved in a game of hide and seek. An overstuffed closet is a good place for a nap.
3. If you should catch wind of family drama occurring, high tail it in the opposite direction. Your opinion, help, or bone marrow is not needed.
4. Football – There is always a football game on TV to plant yourself in front of. If it’s not your game, study up now. It all else fails just yell, “How about a flag?,” or “You call that a tackle?” every so often.
5. Volunteer to walk the dogs. You’ll get brownie points from mom and get to spend countless time on the lawn – alone.
Should you still find yourself unable to face the day you could always spend the day in service working in a homeless shelter, as long as your careful to make it home for dessert so you remain in the will. If your really desperate, irritate your nut allergy. Just make sure to have an EpiPen handy and a designated driver to the emergency room. (Caution – be sure your driver isn’t on your toxic relative list or this exercise is moot.)
Keep in mind, Thanksgiving is just one day. So, count your blessings….because the holiday season is only beginning!
I am thankful for all of you. Leave me a comment and tell me about it!
From The Point Always, Lori Flynn