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Thanksgiving Day, celebrated on the fourth Thursday in the month of November, every year, is essentially a harvest festival. It is a time characterized with lot of fun and frolic, gifting, family feasting, community praying. It is also a time to show your gratitude and respect to your elders, friends, your siblings and also your colleagues. Popular gifts include thanksgiving flowers, jewelry, baked cookie hampers, chocolate gift baskets, candy-wreaths, wine and much more.

Thanksgiving is most jubilated in the countries of America and Canada. These countries witness a lot of fervor and zeal among its residents. It is a time to thank not only God for a bountiful harvest, but also your fellow countrymen and women for their continuous support and care.

It is also celebrated in parts of Asia, Africa under different names. The theme behind all the celebrations is uniform- being grateful to Lord Almighty and your fellow men.

Thanksgiving Day is celebrated with lot of fervor and merry-making in America. Celebrated on the fourth Thursday in the month of November every year, it is a time for communal thanksgiving, feeling gratitude, lavish feasts. It is a time to remember the pilgrims. The original pilgrims celebrated the autumn harvest with a feast of thanks. The feast popularly known as the ‘First Thanksgiving Day Feast’ was held as a gesture of thanks to almighty God. It was celebrated in the year 1621. After the United States gained independence, Congress recommended one yearly day of thanksgiving for the whole nation to celebrate.

Until recently, many people believed Thanksgiving Day to be a celebration of pilgrims, offering food to Indians. It however is a day marked as a gesture of thanks and gratitude to Lord Almighty for his blessings. It is also a celebration to mark the respect towards Indians for teaching the pilgrims how to cook. The Pilgrims could not have survived without the help of the native Indians.

Thanksgiving Day is a time of festivity, family meals and reunions in America. Carved turkeys, Pumpkin Pie, Corns, Cranberry Sauce are the traditional dishes adorning the dinner tables in almost every house. A time for feasting, Thanksgiving Day epitomizes the holiday mood of people. There are ways for people to celebrate even if they are Vegans, Vegetarians, or have other dietary restrictions.  Some families choose to serve vegetarian Thanksgiving dinners instead of a stuffed turkey. Some people eat vegetarian turkey, which is made out of tofu. Others prefer to eat squash, salads, or other fruit and vegetable dishes.

 One of the best things about Thanksgiving is spending time with family. Many people live far from family members and travel long distances by car, train, or plane to be with their loved ones. Thanksgiving is the busiest travel day of the year!   Some that aren’t able to get to be with family or friends use Thanksgiving as an opportunity to help the less fortunate. Some people volunteer to serve food at homeless shelters on Thanksgiving Day and others donate to shelters or participate in canned food drives. For others unable to get home, many communities have a plethora of activities that they could participate in so they are not alone.

Some families have a tradition that includes breaking the turkey’s wishbone as part of their celebration. The wishbone is found attached to the breast meat in the turkey’s chest. After the meat has been removed and the wishbone has had a chance to become dry and brittle, two people each take one end of the bone, make a wish, and pull. Whoever ends up with the larger part of the bone gets their wish!

Each year at Thanksgiving, the President of the United States receives a gift of a live turkey (along with an alternate in case something happens to the official turkey). At a White House ceremony, the president traditionally “pardons” the National Thanksgiving Turkey and the alternate turkeys, allowing them to live out the rest of their lives on a farm.

In addition to the traditional football games that are televised on Thanksgiving, the most popular that is watched (and well attended) is the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, from New York City.     While I was growing up there were many years that my family went into the City from Long Island and watched the parade and I went by myself when I lived in Manhattan,    This was one of our traditions and eagerly anticipated.   Yes, we still had the traditional holiday meal as well, sometimes when we were in the city we made it an entire day and had thanksgiving dinner at a nice restaurant.   Even now I look forward to watching the parade on TV, and I feel that it is still a fabulous way to ring in the holiday season.

After the feast families often do additional activities. Some like to take walks after eating such a large meal. Some people take naps. Others sit down together to play board or card games together.   In many areas around the county there are also Turkey Trots, races and walks that becoming more and more popular among many people and a good way to help   burn off some of the calories from their meal. Some participants also race in holiday themed costumes.

Thanksgiving Day is the official beginning of the Christmas season and that here in America; businesses witness a maximum sales volume the next day. The Friday after thanksgiving is famously known as ‘Black Friday’. This is so, because of the standard accounting practice of writing profits in black. The ongoing festive spirit, shopping spree, helps the shopkeepers to register maximum sales and profits. The entire atmosphere during the time is euphoric; people get in a holiday mood. It is also the perfect time to get the holiday decorations out and start decorating the home for Christmas.

One of the recent trends that I am not a fan of is some stores opening on Thanksgiving Day in an effort to boost sales and their profits. I find that it takes away from the reason and meaning of the holiday, and I have been pleased to learn that many retailers have started to change their policy of opening on Thanksgiving. I am also not a big fan of places decorating or putting out Christmas items out as early as Labor Day in September.   It is just not right.

Kathy Kiefer


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