Our Father, Mother, Spirit we thank
you for food and remember the hungry.
remember the sick.
remember the friendless.
remember the enslaved.
Upon a day apart,
To praise the Lord with feast and song
In thankfulness of heart.
~Arthur Guiterman, The First Thanksgiving
the celebration of work and the simple life....
a true folk-festival that speaks the poetry
of the turn of the seasons, the beauty of seedtime
and harvest, the ripe product of the year —
and the deep, deep connection of all
these things with God.
~Ray Stannard Baker (David Grayson)
The true origins of the first thanksgiving celebrations are debated by many historians, but one of the earliest celebrations of harvest and thanksgiving was in 1610, at Jamestown, North America's first permanent settlement. Most Americans still equate Thanksgiving to the early settlement at Plymouth Plantation, in what's now Plymouth, Massachusetts, and the pilgrims' three day celebration after their first successful harvest.
blessings already on their way.
~Native American Saying
Even though it may not have even been served at the first thanksgiving celebrations, turkey is the dish most identified with the modern holiday. Turkey didn't start to dominate the Thanksgiving table until the mid-19th century and before that, the turkey shared the groaning table with other fowl and meat, like this menu from 1779. Aside from the squash, pumpkin, and corn, it's like any British menu from the 18th century.
Our Oxford Thanksgiving is modified just a bit, but now stores like Waitrose have much of their Christmas holiday dishes available for Thanksgiving too, knowing how many Yanks live in the U.K. Some things I have to hunt down, like cranberries and pumpkin, but the 'American Food' section at Tesco has canned pumpkin (horrifyingly along with Pop-Tarts, Lucky Charms & Twinkies--what MUST people think of us!). The one thing I miss most is Crisco which, along with the old, old Betty Crocker recipe, makes the best pie crust in the world. But as I've learned to do so well since moving to England, I make do, adjust, make it work, or sometimes just let it go. A feast is still a feast on Thanksgiving Day.
In the U.S. it's also the official start of the Christmas season. Christmas trees and lights start appearing at Thanksgiving and the holiday season of Christmas and New Year gets into full swing. But for a Christmas lover like I am, even though I miss being home for Thanksgiving, the one thing I do love is that without Thanksgiving, Christmas appears a little earlier in the U.K. My philosophy is that you can never have too much good cheer, too many Christmas carols, or too many lights on a tree.
Peace in the hearts of all men living,
peace in the whole world this Thanksgiving.
Happy Thanksgiving from Oxford, from Stuart, Jack and I, to everyone around the world--we share a heart full of thanks and love.