Gobble Gobble: Gratitude

The Webster’s Dictionary definition of Thanksgiving is “the act of giving thanks, a prayer expressing gratitude, or a public acknowledgement or celebration of divine goodness.”

Americans continue to debate on the origin of the very first Thanksgiving.

Many Virginians and historians believe that in 1610, the colonists of Virginia had the first Thanksgiving in Jamestown, which was the first permanent English settlement in the New World. Other Americans believe that in 1621, the Pilgrims invited the Wampanoag Indians to a feast in Plymouth Colony, now Plymouth, Massachusetts, to celebrate their first harvest with food such as turkey and pumpkin pie.

The Washington Post states that many historians at Plimoth Plantation, a museum in Plymouth, Massachusetts, say that colonists had a meal with the Indians; however, the one historical account of the actual dinner doesn’t mention turkey. The historians said that pumpkin was available, but not pumpkin pie, and sweet potatoes at the time were unknown to the colonists.

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The Pilgrims left Britain in search of religious freedom, but found it in Holland in the early 1600’s. The Pilgrims came to America primarily because they wanted to preserve their English identity and for economic reasons according to The Washington Post; however, an article written on History.com states that the main reason for voyaging to the New World was to find that religious freedom and, in fact, when they came to Holland, they were not welcomed.


Also, in The Washington Post, it says that historians think there was another feast in the Plymouth colony in 1623, but earlier in the year. Different colonies celebrated their own Thanksgiving during different days of the year.

In 1789, George Washington declared Thurs., Nov. 26, as a Thanksgiving holiday, but only for that year. This holiday was not connected to the Pilgrim feast, but only a day of public thanksgiving and prayer.

Sarah Josepha Hale, a famous author of Mary Had a Little Lamb written in 1830, loved Thanksgiving and was very patriotic. She convinced Abraham Lincoln into making Thanksgiving an official holiday on the 4th Thursday of November every year.

Despite the conflicting history of the first Thanksgiving, Americans celebrate the holiday for many different reasons.

Mrs. Melissa Motley, English teacher, celebrates Thanksgiving as a religious holiday. “I use Thanksgiving as a time to thank God for the blessings He has given all of us, and to have a big feast with my family in order to be thankful for all that he has done.”

“I think it is a good time to sit down and think of what you are most thankful for,” Mrs. Katie Church said, “because life is busy. It’s good to be able to have time to sit down and think of all the good things that’re in your life.”

Mrs. Jordan Kee, a local resident from Chatham, said, “It is a chance for the family to get together!”

Some people prefer turkey over ham during their big Thanksgiving feast.

“Turkey is my preference,” Motley said, “It is much less salty than ham and it is more traditional. I associate ham more with Christmas.”

Church did not like either turkey or ham. She said, “I prefer eating pork, but if it isn’t available when I eat with my family, then I will just eat the sides.”

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“Definitely ham,” Kee said, “I was born and raised in Smithfield, which is the ham capital of the world where the famous Smithfield ham was invented.

Most people have a favorite part of Thanksgiving.

“Being together with family and being able to put up the Christmas tree… and to shop are my favorites!” Mrs. Motley said.

“Having a half a week off of work and doing fun things with my family,” Mrs. Church said, “We usually go off the mountains, which is really fun!”

“We always take a family hike on the saturday after Thanksgiving,” Mrs. Kee said, “I really enjoy that time with my family. We always have a lot of fun.”

Most people have lots to be thankful for.

“I am thankful for my family,” Mrs. Motley said, “I still have my mom and dad, my sister, and I have my daughter.”

“I am thankful that I have good people to surround myself with,” Mrs. Church said, “in my work life and personal life.”

“I am thankful for my husband,” Mrs. Kee said, “He is a good man, a good father. a good grandfather, and he is a hard worker.”

The holidays are a time for making memories.

“The times when my grandfather and grandmother were still alive are great memories; and being able to sneak some food from the kitchen while my grandmother wasn’t looking and being able to play with my cousins as a child,” Mrs. Motley said.

“Going on a bunch of fun trips with my family are my favorite memories,” Mrs. Church said, “The funnest one was going to Asheville and Biltmore. We just rented a cabin in the middle of nowhere and explored little towns.”

“I forgot to take out the plastic package out of the stuffing and everyone laughed when I put it on the table. I cried at first,” Jordan Kee said, “but every time I think of it now, I just laugh.”

Thanksgiving also is a time for gratitude for important family members.

“I miss my grandfather,” Mrs. Motley said. “He died so suddenly, and I want to be able to say what I did not get to say to him before he died. He taught me perseverance.”

“I would have to say my mother,” Mrs. Church said, “She is such a good role model. She taught me to always be kind to others. She is such an extremely loving and supportive parent.”

“My Aunt Dell,” Mrs. Kee said. “When I was young, my father died, and my mother could not take care of my brother and I, so she took us in and raised us.”


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