I have been thinking about Thanksgiving a lot lately. We have much to be grateful for this year. Our family has had some very difficult struggles, but we continue on like everyone else. I think about not just the chaos that comes from meal preparation or traveling to visit family, but how the holiday has evolved.
Growing up, Thanksgiving meant a day spent with cousins and grandparents. Delicious food prepared by the women in our family. Homemade noodles simmered in a rich broth made from turkey neck, and wings, mounds of creamy mashed potatoes, savory stuffing seasoned with sage, onion, and drippings from the turkey.
Cranberries, ground up with fresh oranges and tamed with sugar for a tart side dish was dished into a bowl, next to it was the vinegary three-bean salad. The air was scented of roasted turkey and the yeasty aroma of dinner rolls as they baked at the last minute.
The table would groan as platters and serving dishes filled every space. It was glorious. Sitting at the card table set up for extra seating, I remember watching the adults and listening to their murmured conversations, the more boisterous noises coming from the living room where older cousins were laughing as they teased each other. Afterward, we would head outside to “walk off the meal” as the adults cleaned up.
It was the time together, which made these events so special. We were not wealthy, the food was not fancy, there was no alcohol. We were just together. The television stayed off, there were no video games and certainly no cell phones. We were blessed and thankful.
Today, it seems like the holiday is little more than a starting date for the Christmas shopping season. Meals are consumed before football games or shopping. There is a disconnect as people bond with their phones more than each other. It’s sad. I wonder what children today will remember from family gatherings of their youth.
The first Thanksgiving was a feast. Wild game, fish, mussels, corn, squash, and berries were assumed to be part of the day as people from different cultures set aside their differences and gave thanks — together.
They were grateful for a decent harvest, which would help them survive another year. They appreciated the skills and help they provided to each other as they worked toward many of the same goals, despite being from different backgrounds.
They shared knowledge and worked to learn about each other. Despite their hardships, in many ways, they had a much better understanding of what it means to appreciate the bounties in their life, no matter how meager they may seem to us today.
This Thursday, I hope each of you get to bask in the warmth of people you care about, have your bellies filled with cherished dishes from your childhood and recognize how blessed we are in so many ways. It’s a beautiful holiday and tradition from our forefathers and one we should be mindful to embrace. Happy Thanksgiving.
Written and submitted by Sarah Roush for The Circleville Herald. The views of this column may not necessarily reflect that of the newspaper.