The Thanksgiving holiday in America traces its origins back to 1621 when Plymouth colonists broke bread with Wampanoag Indians in an autumn harvest feast. It would take nearly 250 years before that first harvest feast was recognized as an official holiday. In 1863, in the midst of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day to be held each November. [“Thanksgiving,” History Channel] The History Channel site continues:
“In November 1621, after the Pilgrims’ first corn harvest proved successful, Governor William Bradford organized a celebratory feast and invited a group of the fledgling colony’s Native American allies, including the Wampanoag chief Massasoit. Now remembered as American’s ‘first Thanksgiving’—although the Pilgrims themselves may not have used the term at the time—the festival lasted for three days. While no record exists of the historic banquet’s exact menu, the Pilgrim chronicler Edward Winslow wrote in his journal that Governor Bradford sent four men on a ‘fowling’ mission in preparation for the event, and that the Wampanoag guests arrived bearing five deer. Historians have suggested that many of the dishes were likely prepared using traditional Native American spices and cooking methods. Because the Pilgrims had no oven and the Mayflower’s sugar supply had dwindled by the fall of 1621, the meal did not feature pies, cakes or other desserts, which have become a hallmark of contemporary celebrations.”
I suspect that many of those dishes might not suit today’s palate. If you want some recipes for dishes that may be more fitting for today’s Thanksgiving feast, check out McCormick’s recipe suggestions. Logistics for that first autumn feast were fairly simple. In most cases, the person that raised the vegetables or shot the game also transported the goods directly to the homes of consumers. Things have changed considerably over the past 4 centuries. Keisha A. Simmons writes, “By now, you’ve probably thought about all the logistical details like: what items are required to bring the meal together; who’s responsible for bringing each dish; what time guests should arrive; and where dinner should be served so there’s enough room for everyone.” [“Thanksgiving Dinner and Your Supply Chain? It’s All About Logistics,” Welcome to upside, 13 November 2012] Simmons admits that you probably don’t have “full knowledge and control over many of these elements, you can only trust that everyone involved will come through – on time and as promised.” She notes that UPS can’t be quite so trusting when it comes to helping clients get their goods. Her point is well made. The logistics behind getting all of the ingredients from producers and manufacturers into the stores and eventually to your table is far more complex today than it was several hundred years ago.
Fortunately, most of us don’t have to worry about whether our will be food on store shelves for us to buy. That’s just one of things for which we should be grateful on this holiday. Simran Khurana writes, “The tradition of Thanksgiving dinner teaches us to appreciate the finer things in life. If you want this tradition to continue, you must invest positive energy into the Thanksgiving dinner, and make it a joyous affair. Let your enthusiasm and energy revitalize everyone. Prepare a great Thanksgiving toast and inspire others with your positive words. Make this your best Thanksgiving dinner.” [“Best Thanksgiving Quotes“] One of the quotes that Khurana suggests we remember is from Frederick Keonig, “We tend to forget that happiness doesn’t come as a result of getting something we don’t have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have.”
I hope you have a wonderful day and find time to express thanks for what you have.