No Thanksgiving

As a child, I can’t recall any family Thanksgiving celebrations, not even an acknowledgment of the day. Every day, except Sunday, was a work day or a day filled with some kind of activity for my family. And with Thanksgiving being on a weekday and in the cool, autumn season when pecans were ripe for harvesting, we spent our day in the pecan orchard. I guess my dad thought it was a good day to give thanks for life, liberty and good health to work.

It was only in later years, after I left home, that I became aware that Thanksgiving was observed as a traditional American holiday set aside as a day of thanks to God for His bountiful provisions. Then, I learned about the Pilgrims and the Indians and their contribution to this day and occasion.

Actually, in junior high school, I did begin to read and see pictures about Thanksgiving and it began to take on a different meaning for me. At least at that point, I understood what the day was all about.

Let me explain. In the rural South of my era, many people were simply in survival mode. It wasn’t that holidays weren’t special, it’s just that those things were on the back burner, so to speak. We were more concerned about putting food on the table for every day and not just for one day of the year. If we ate every day, we considered it a feast and were thankful.

I’m not saying that some families (even poor ones) didn’t celebrate Thanksgiving. I just don’t remember ours setting that day aside for anything special.

Even in school, I don’t remember our teachers telling us the significance of this holiday, though they may have. My memory doesn’t serve me well along this line. No doubt, they gave us Thanksgiving crafts and coloring book activities the same as they did for Easter, but if they did, it escapes my memory. I do recall, though, that at some point I saw pictures of Pilgrims, Indians and a table spread bountifully with all kinds of delicious foods. I learned the significance of this day and that those people in the unfamiliar-looking black outfits and the high-top hats were the ones who started Thanksgiving (or a day of thanks) for having survived their first winter in this strange land that we now call America.

Whenever I saw those pictures with that table piled high with delicious foods, quite naturally, I longed to have been there and to have a table just like that set before me so I could have the kind of feast the Pilgrims and Indians had on their first Thanksgiving Day.

Photo: iStockphoto.com/marekuliasz

In actuality, my family, to this day, doesn’t really celebrate this day as a traditional American holiday in the sense that many families do, but for me, it is now an important occasion, and each year, I observe and celebrate the significance of this wonderful and happy holiday.

Published on Dec 17, 2013

Grit Magazine

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