Thanksgiving: An American Holiday, An American History

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving Dear Readers

I hope you have all had a wonderful holiday (or for those of you who are reading from outside the U.S., a wonderful day in general.) Thanksgiving here in Wetzel Land was fun but extremely busy - and trying to read an entire book in the middle of it was very challenging. I'm really looking forward to the end of the year when I can blog when it's convenient but not have to write a blog entry on busy days.

Despite my busy day, I did not forget to take a few pictures of the busyness to share with my dear readers.

Here I am attempting to read and cook at the same time. When I was a child I used to love the scenes from Little House where Laura was studying at the same time that she was cooking, cleaning, and feeding the chickens. Today, I got a chance to try those things out . . . except for the part about feeding the chickens, of course.

And now dear readers, I would like to introduce you to my sister, who you've heard a lot about, but never seen any pictures of (past the age of 8, of course.) I'm going to end your suspense and let you see what she looks like. Drum roll please. . . . .

So what do you think dear readers, do you see the family resemblance?

A blogger's job is never done. And neither is the sister of a blogger (who was forced to take mystery pictures, although "forced" might be a strong word because taking the pictures seems to bring out the artist in her) or of a blogger's aunt (Aunt Cindy in this case) who agreed to humor me for this latest mystery picture.

Today's book, "Thanksgiving is as lively as American life - and, indeed, the history of this holiday is in itself a vital history in America. Yet while Thanksgiving is America's oldest and most beloved holiday, it is the country's most misunderstood. Author Diana Karter Appelbaum sifts fact from fancy about this uniquely American holiday. She not only clarifies the times, places and circumstances of the earliest Thanksgivings, but she also traces the evolution of the holiday and its historical parallel to the growth of America."

Today's book was filled with very interesting facts about Thanksgiving - most of which I never knew before (although that's not a very impressive distinction considering I've forgotten everything I ever learned in school and I forget about every book I read two seconds after I'm done with it.) My one complaint is that the book didn't delve into Thanksgiving celebrations on the home front during World War II very much. There was a lot of information about the way Thanksgiving was celebrated on the front lines, and that was interesting but I'm much more fascinated by life on the home front.

Fun Facts:

  • The first Thanksgiving feast, which served 140 people (90 Native Americans and 50 settlers) was prepared by 4 women and 2 teenage girls. - I'm guessing the husbands of those 4 women were looking at the business end of a hissy fit when they found out they would be cooking for that many people. You invited 90 extra people? What is wrong with you? Do you have any idea the extra work that's going to require? Oh that does it, you are making this up to me - I want a new loom for Christmas, and don't even try to tell me that you don't have time to make me one, because if I have to take the time to cook for 90 extra people then you can just find the time to build it. Okay, so it's possible I might be basing too much of this on the fights I've witnessed between my parents over the years. So, suffice it to say dear readers, if my parents had been alive during the first Thanksgiving that's the conversation that would have been going on near the fire pit while dinner was being cooked.

  • Turkey was not always the traditional Thanksgiving main entree. From the 17th to the 19th century the main entree was chicken pie. - Do what you will with that information dear readers. I spent about ten minutes trying to think of something funny to say about chicken pie, but I've got nothing.

  • Pumpkins used to be called pompions. - So, the next time you are at a party and you want to impress someone, ask them if they enjoy Pompion Pie and when they tell you they don't know what that is, you can respond with "Uncultured swine"* - *"Uncultured swine" is a trademark of the Alissa Wetzel corporation. (My sister makes me say that whenever I use an expression she frequently uses. So I walk around saying things like, "Death. Is. Imminent. Trademark of the Alissa Wetzel Corporation," as other people stare at me in confusion.)

And now I have to go dear readers, because I have to go get ready for the Midnight Madness sale that my sister is dragging me to.