Greg Bassett: Celebrate like a Pilgrim this year

We like to call it the all-American holiday, a time of great gratitude for the good things in life, a family reunion, a salute to hot cider, roast turkey and pumpkin pie. The it slips out the back door, hardly noticed, and we say: “Where did Thanksgiving go?”

For all of its good intentions, Thanksgiving seems to be losing its identity on the way to Christmas shopping season. “I feel bad about Thanksgiving,” a friend told me over the weekend. “It’s just a day that we don’t have to work. It’s a day where we watch football on television.”

I’m a rank sentimentalist and an ardent preserver of all things traditional. To be honest about it, though, the Thanksgivings we knew as children weren’t all that wonderful either. There was always at least one battle of tempers featuring my grandparents. My Dad and Uncle Floyd would always eat too much and fall asleep, with loud snoring emanating from the living room recliners. The women were sentenced to a day of cooking and doing dishes. The kids moaned and made faces when they were ordered to eat either the turnips or cauliflower or brussels sprouts or greens – I had one cousin who actually whined every year about the tartness of the cranberries.

Sill, it’s a much more commercial holiday now. We’re hearing Christmas songs in October. We’re already thinking of Black Friday – the busiest shopping day of the year — as a bigger holiday than Thanksgiving itself.

This is no way to be.

The Pilgrims definitely wouldn’t like it. If they were still around, they might tell us to sing some hymns on Thanksgiving, to take a walk in some woods, to invite a stranger in need to dinner. They might tell us to cherish what we have and share it with less-fortunate neighbors.

After all, the first real Thanksgiving in 1621 was a celebration of surviving that went on for three days – and then three more days when some 90 Indians dropped in. No one made faces when consuming a feast of wild turkey, venison, duck, goose, corn, cranberries, pumpkins and squash. Also on the menu were eels, beer and even some moonshine.

The Pilgrims may have been humble servants, but they knew an all-American holiday when they saw one.

Greg Bassett is editor and general manager of Salisbury Independent. Reach him at gbassett@newszap.com

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