Well, Thanksgiving week is here, and despite the increased cost of food and the uncertain availability of turkeys that haven’t grown to the size of Sumo wrestlers, Americans are generally getting ready to enjoy some form of the traditional annual feast this Thursday.
The holiday is especially important this year as many families are traveling and getting together in larger groups in a long-deferred reaction to last year’s subdued and socially distanced meals to protect their loved ones against COVID-19.
The availability of the vaccines this year, however, has given the country a sense of permission to “gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing,” even though too many people are still stubbornly refusing to get their shots — making family hugs still a bit of a crapshoot when it comes to getting sick or maybe dead.
Thanksgiving is a thoroughly American holiday. We have been celebrating some form of a Thanksgiving feast, officially or unofficially, since the early Jamestown, Virginia, settlers invited neighboring Indians to a big harvest feast in 1609 near Berkeley Plantation.
Several years later, in 1621, the Pilgrims set aside a day for thanking God and also had a big three-day feast with Indian guests, who didn’t realize they were fraternizing with early “undocumented immigrants.” As time went by, the Pilgrims had better public relations people and were on the winning side of the war between the states, so today they get all the credit for starting the holiday. But I wouldn’t be surprised if the first Thanksgiving meal was enjoyed by North Carolina’s Lost Colony sometime in the 1580s.
Whoever started it, Thanksgiving is one of our better holidays because we’re still a nation that believes in thanking God for the many blessings associated with “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
Christians and Jews are repeatedly admonished to “give thanks to the Lord,” with the words “thanks” or “thanksgiving” appearing 124 times in the Bible, not including other variations. Other religions are also thankful in their own traditions. It’s the poor atheist who has the dilemma of whom to thank.
And we do have a lot to be thankful for, even if we don’t want to admit it. The pandemic is still ongoing, but cases are down as folks eventually get their shots and people still take some common-sense precautions. Life is slowly, very slowly, inching toward tentative versions of normalcy.
Inflation is up, of course, but it’s actually a consequence of the economy roaring back and supply struggling to keep up with demand. There are plenty of jobs, apparently, for those who want them. And, let’s not forget that football and basketball seem almost back to normal!
Our politics are screwed up royally, of course, as Republican leaders embrace conspiracies and violence while Democrats, trying to actually govern, rival the turkeys for cluelessness in how to pass their legislation. But the infrastructure bill, in seriousness, is a tremendous achievement and much needed. And at least the Democrats are trying to provide “social infrastructure” for young children and the elderly which, if passed, will help struggling families.
But overall, life in America is still pretty good, especially compared to many other countries. And southern Nash County is starting to see the big growth we’ve long been expecting, with all the opportunities and challenges that growth brings.
Next month we’ll have new political leadership in Spring Hope, hoping for the best, and we’re fortunate to live in a county with stable and fiscally responsible leadership, mercifully free of the partisan bickering we see in Raleigh and Washington, where I am convinced the turkeys truly live.
All that remains now is the weather for Thanksgiving, where we’re getting mixed signals as winter begins to show itself. Whether it’s cold or mild, though, I’d like to share a special holiday forecast I ran across some time ago: “Turkeys will thaw in the morning, then warm in the oven to an afternoon high near 190 degrees. The kitchen will turn hot and humid, and if you bother the cook, be ready for a severe squall or cold shoulder.
“During the later afternoon and evening, the cold front of a knife will slice through the turkey, causing an accumulation of 1-2 inches on plates. Mashed potatoes will drift across one side while cranberry sauce creates slippery spots on the other. Please pass the gravy.
“A weight watch and indigestion warning have been issued for the entire area, with increased stuffiness around the beltway. During the evening, the turkey will diminish and taper off to leftovers, dropping to a low of 34 degrees in the refrigerator.
“Looking ahead to Friday and Saturday, high pressure to eat sandwiches will be established. Flurries of leftovers can be expected both days with a 50% chance of scattered soup late in the day. We expect a warming trend where soup develops. By early next week, eating pressure will be low as the only wish left will be the bone.”
Ken Ripley, a Spring Hope native, is The Enterprise’s editor and publisher emeritus.
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