Friday, November 19, 2021

A Low-Stress Holiday: The Peace of Thanksgiving

"In 1621, the Plymouth colonists and the Wampanoag shared an autumn harvest feast that is acknowledged today as one of the first Thanksgiving celebrations in the colonies. For more than two centuries, days of thanksgiving were celebrated by individual colonies and states. It wasn’t until 1863, in the midst of the Civil War, that President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving."-- from

Jewel Tea Company dishes

Thanksgiving is a low-stress holiday, a celebration of food and football.  The history books in school said that the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag celebrated the first Thanksgiving, eating a peaceful, abundant meal together in 1621.  This historic episode or legend may have been revised or reinterpreted since my schooldays.  But to me Thanksgiving embodies the spirit of Peace on Earth, Good Will to Men.  It is devoid of the capitalist pressure of buying, buying, buying for Christmas.

And the feast is one of my favorites. Roast the turkey in the oven, make a fruit salad, mash the potatoes, bake the green bean casserole, roast and stuff a squash for the vegetarians, and buy the pumpkin pies, for heaven's sake.  Before the big football game on TV, you can set the table with your grandmother's Jewel Tea Company china, which she bought with coupons in the '30s or '40s, and summon everybody to the table. Last year you retired the Pilgrims tablecloth, because someone found it politically incorrect and "offensive."  Heavens, it was not an heirloom, and I certainly was not attached to it. Let it go!  It's like that turkey centerpiece you made at school out of a potato and toothpicks. Not an heirloom. 

The great difference between Thanksgiving and Christmas, both celebrations of food and football, is the frantic gift exchange (and that Christmas is a religious holiday, of course).  After all,  Christmas is almost over by Thanksgiving, since Black Friday started in October and you've bought everything - or so you think, until you read in New York Magazine that a Kombucha brewing kit would be perfect for the men in your life.  ""Do you ever drink Kombucha?" you ask at dinner.  Aunt Florrie frowns and mouths a frantic NO!!!  None of the men have heard of Kombucha.  There will be no messy bottle operation in the basement.  No beer/Komucha bottles exploding.

Christmas is restless and boisterous, related to the wild Roman holiday, Saturnalia.  There is the trimming of the tree, the cheerful repetition of "Jingle Bell Rock" on the radio, carols at Midnight Mass, and the American obsession with Dickens' A Christmas Carol.  Have you, too, accompanied your family to the community theater production A Christmas Carol?  Not again, you think silently.   But if you stay home because of a small cold, Aunt Florrie stays home, too,  and suggests listening to A Christmas Carol read aloud on the radio.

Are the British and Canadians this obsessed with A Christmas Carol? 

If you learn it by heart, you can drive everybody crazy and they'll let you watch The Bishop's Wife or Christmas in July instead.  

But I'll enjoy Thanksgiving first.


  1. Truer words never spoken. I only differ from you in that I don't associate fruit salad with Thanksgiving, and had not heard of the Jewel Tea Company (different part of the country). But I had to laugh, because my son the librarian on Catalina Island, is playing the parts of Jacob Marley and The Ghost of Christmas to Come, in the island community theater's production of You-Know-What! (It will be held in the Catalina Casino, which is at least unusual.) Wishing you a happy Thanksgiving. :-)

    1. I'm impressed that your son is in A Christmas Carol! Now that would make Christmas fun. Thanksgiving is so laid-back, especially since Thursday shopping is forbidden this year (at least here), that Christmas seems jittery. But there are the decorations, of course!

  2. What is or are Kombucha? This is a rhetorical question.

    In Britain the main Christmas theatricals consist of Peter Pan and - especially pantomimes - deranged plays - usually based on fairy stories, involving transvestism (the hero is usually played by an attractive young woman and his mother by a middle-aged man), TV personalities showing why they aren't actors, jokes about current affairs, elaborate transformation scenes etc. Eminent actors try to get parts in them if they can

    1. I do wish I LIKED kombucha! Those articles make me consider the strangest gifts.

      Well, we don't have your Christmas theatricals. I do know Peter Pan, though. It was practically a national event in my childhood to see it performed live on TV with Mary Martin. I was slightly bothered that Peter was a woman, not knowing ANY theater history, and thought it was because she was light enough not to break her flying apparatus. A Christmas Carol is the thing here. I must admit, I prefer the movie versions!

  3. I'm not really into Thanksgiving that much, but I did enjoy the post. Loved the jewel tea dishes -- I have several pieces myself, including an Aladdin type tea pot. They're all such fun to use!

  4. Thank you! I adored my grandma's dishes and one day my mother told me about the Jewell Tea Company. I haven't seen the Aladdin type tea pot. Sounds like the perfect addition!

    And Happy Thanksgiving!