The Thanksgiving Journey
Posted on November 24, 2011It was after a long, painful and dangerous journey that the first Thanksgiving was celebrated. And ever since that time, it has become an essential part of the American experience to feast after making a long trip.
That explains why so many people travel so far during the third week of November of every year.
In fact, close to 50 million people have hit the roads, train stations and airports to reach their Thanksgiving destination. “Over the hills and through the woods, to Grandmother’s house we go,” the song used to go.
My own personal journey this week was traveling around the area, trying to find a store that was open. We needed two extra chairs for our table, and none of our neighbors were around to lend them to us. They were traveling. Alas, no stores were open, which serves me right. I have commented publicly how outraged I was that stores would open early on Thanksgiving to get a start on Black Friday. Serves me right that just about every store was closed when I most needed them to be open.
We decided a couple of years ago to sucker other people to coming to our house for Thanksgiving. I am all for shorter journeys on Thanksgiving.
When I was a kid, we used to learn all about the Pilgrims and the Indians and that first bipartisan feast. I don’t know what the kids are learning these days about those early days of the European settlers. Probably something about how the cruel white people wouldn’t share their Turkeys with the nice native Americans.
George Washington made the first Thanksgiving proclamation, Abraham Lincoln put Thanksgiving officially in November in every state (an effort to reconcile the South and the North) and FDR signed a law that made it an official holiday. In other words, it was the big-time Presidents who made Thanksgiving a big time holiday.
Macy’s brought a bit of commercial sparkle to Thanksgiving. The first Macy’s Day Thanksgiving Parade was held in 1924. Apparently, the tradition started when Macy’s employees (many of whom were new immigrants) wanted to show their patriotism by starting a celebratory parade. Now, the parade has become one huge advertisement for NBC, a campaign so effective that my 5-year old son proclaimed that he wanted to have pancakes and watch the Macy’s Day parade. I have no idea where he go that one.
The other enduring Thanksgiving tradition is watching the Detroit Lions play somebody else. This year, it is the Packers, but I remember a couple of times when they played the Bears. It is a good tradition, because watching football is a heckuva lot safer than playing football, which is what I used to do when I was kid, when we were waiting for the turkey to cook.
My version of the mythic journey (outside of looking for those extra chairs) was a Turkey Trot. It wasn’t a long run, but I burned off enough calories to give me some comfort that I can eat a bunch of turkey without feeling that guilty.
America is a special place with a lot of fun and evolving traditions. Thanksgiving is an important holiday that allows us to reflect on our blessings and then eat a bunch of good stuff. Happy Thanksgiving to all of you and thanks for following the Feehery Theory!