Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. It is not celebrated in Ireland, so when I arrived on these shores it was all new to me.
Ever since I celebrated my first Thanksgiving in Elmira, New York in 1988, I have grown to love and appreciate this holiday.
I love cooking, and what better occasion is there to flex those culinary muscles, without feeling the extra pressures of gift buying, wrapping and decorating. Today, to celebrate this amazing national holiday, I thought I might share my top ten reasons for loving Thanksgiving.
1. A Beautiful Beginning:
The very first Thanksgiving Holiday Proclamation was made by President Abraham Lincoln in 1963 during the Civil War, a time in our nation's history when few felt truly thankful. His words are inspirational to this day, and sum up the deep meaning of this holiday:
"It has seemed to me fit and proper that God should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and one voice, by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November as a day of Thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens."
- Abraham Lincoln, October 3, 1863
What a beautiful beginning to our national celebration!
2. Presidential Turkey Pardon:
You have to love a holiday where the President spares a bird a terrible, but delicious fate.
John F Kennedy was the first President to grant a turkey its freedom at the White House in 1963, with the first official pardon being bestowed by President George H.W. Bush in 1989. The tradition has survived and thrived and now holds the title of National Thanksgiving Turkey Presentation.
Thanksgiving is all about family and friends coming together. The primary focus is enjoying each others company, while sharing a magnificent meal with a grateful heart.
When I see my street lined with cars and watch people arriving to welcoming neighbors' homes, as they balance dishes and tote coolers, I get a lump in my throat. Thanksgiving makes me proud to be an American, where family and friends are the center of the universe.
4. Green Bean Casserole:
Green bean casserole is good, old-fashioned, American cuisine. I first tasted this delectable delight twenty-four years ago, and ever since I look forward to it every Thanksgiving. It's those crunchy french-fried onions I crave.
And one of the most popular side dishes for Irish Americans is none other than mashed rutabaga. What an amazing meal.
5. Guilt-Free Eating:
Thanksgiving is a day to wear a loose dress or an elastic-waisted pants, and forget about calories, fat, and the do's and dont's of healthy eating.
Permission is granted to pig out, and enjoy every last morsel. Just bring it on!
I love leftovers, especially turkey and all the trimmings. I never object to a three-peat of turkey dinners, but if I have the time and energy I can always make a turkey curry with apples and raisins, or a turkey and mushroom casserole.
The choices are endless, so bring on the leftovers. But remember, if you want to have plenty of leftovers you have to pay the price and host the dinner.
I am not an avid American football fan. I didn't grow up living and breathing the game, so I don't appreciate the intricacies and nuances of each play.
However, I do appreciate a day, where stretching on the couch with a full belly to watch a great game, is a traditional ritual. My little Green Bay Packer fan already looks forward to Thanksgiving football, and he is only five.
I looked up the dictionary to find the meaning of thankfulness. It is defined as being conscious of benefit received, well-pleased, glad or expressive of thanks.
I believe Americans fulfill all these meanings on Thanksgiving Day.
Every American is included no matter their ethnic background, culture or religion. This holiday is for everyone. Perhaps I like it so much because it commemorates how newcomers were first welcomed to this great land by celebrating the harvest with their Native American neighbors.
This warm, inviting tradition of inclusiveness continues to this day. As an immigrant to this country, every single Thanksgiving I have been extended a hand of friendship and asked to join an American friend as they feast. Now I welcome others to my home in return.
10. Christmas Is Just Around The Corner:
Thanksgiving is a precursor to Christmas, a welcome reminder of all that is yet to come.
I hope this year Thanksgiving will serve as a great reminder to us to act on our gratitude over the coming month and year. I pray these days of plenty may encourage us to do what we can to help those who are not so fortunate.
Wishing you all a very
Slán agus beannacht,
(Goodbye and blessings)