Thanksgiving Day, presently celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November, has been an annual tradition in the United States since 1863. Thanksgiving was historically a religious observation to give thanks to God but was established as a secular federal holiday in 1941.
The first Thanksgiving was celebrated to give thanks to God for helping the Pilgrims of Plymouth Colony survive the brutal winter. The first Thanksgiving feast lasted three days providing enough food for 53 pilgrims and 90 Native Americans. The feast consisted of fowl, venison, fish, lobster, clams, berries, fruit, pumpkin, and squash. William Bradford's note that, "besides waterfowl, there was great store of wild turkeys, of which they took many," probably gave rise to the American tradition of turkey at Thanksgiving.
OK, now what Thanksgiving Day means to me. Reflecting back over the years, being thankful for what I have and for what I don't have, cooking, family, friends, food, fun, football (yes, I said it), games and more cooking. (It is a really good thing that I love to cook).
Even though I am a firm believer in tradition, each year our Thanksgiving Day is a little different than the one before. This was the first Thanksgiving feast we have had that was only us, our immediate family, me, Hubby & the kids. Most years we either go someplace, or invite friends over that are single, or their spouse is out of town, or people that have no place to go. But this year was a little different; Hubby had been out of town for three and a half weeks, arriving home the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving. Three and a half weeks shouldn't seem all that long for us, since we are use to being away from him 6 weeks, 6 months, 12 months and even 15 months at a time, but since being here in Korea we have all been spoiled having Hubby around all the time. So, since we missed him SO much, we felt like we needed straight family time and what better way to celebrate our little family than with a Thanksgiving feast.
SO, on to some of our traditions. My BFF introduced us to this tradition several years ago, and it has stuck since then. The story: I was complaining to her about how no one likes to say what they are thankful for at Thanksgiving & how I have tried many ways of getting this done. You see, I feel like since IT IS Thanksgiving, you should be thankful, AND you should share what you are thankful for. In the past I tried to go around the table having people say one thing they are thankful for....well, this would turn into some people not wanting to talk (introverts), some people talking too much (extroverts), some people crying (my MIL), some people being silly and so on....you get the idea. Another thing I tried which worked OK was I had everyone write what they were Thankful for on a piece of paper, then turn it in to me on Thanksgiving morning, and then I baked each slip of paper in the crescent rolls. At the meal, we 'broke bread' and read the 'thankful' that was in our bread. Now this one worked OK, but you can see problems here....what if everyone was not there before you made the rolls, and of course the possibility of a fire. I had a few other things I tried, and they all worked "OK", but when my BFF introduced me to this, it was PERFECT for us and we have been using it for years.
On Thanksgiving morning we take the kids outside to find branches from trees that have fallen to the ground, and we collect them then bring them back in the house to create the centerpiece for our table. We put the branches in a vase (the same vase every year), and this becomes our "Thankful Tree". Once the branches are collected Hubby and the kids cut leaves out of colored paper (I'm in the kitchen cooking). We put the leaves, tape and a couple of pens on the table and throughout the day we go to the table and write what we are thankful for and then tape it to the tree. It is so much fun watching our tree fill up with leaves. At the end of the day the kids like to read the leaves out loud. I have found this is the prefect way to be 'thankful' as no one feels uncomfortable because they know they don't have to say anything out loud, and as a bonus I have been saving all the leaves from our thankful tress. It will be fun to go back when the kids are grown and read some of the old leaves.
Since the seafood is SO fresh here, on Thanksgiving morning I like to wake up and head to the fish market to pick up some super fresh oysters! Here are Hubby and I enjoying a few oysters on the half shell. The kids don't want anything to do with this tradition!