Thanksgiving, a uniquely American holiday and the most popular. And how did we get to this day? There are many stories of the feast shared by the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Indians in Plymouth, Massachusetts in November 1621, including that was the first “thanksgiving.”

Most of us recall the Pilgrim story we learned in school, but I’ve found there are several versions of the first Thanksgiving, including a Florida setting! But we do know it was not called a Thanksgiving feast – it was a harvest celebration and feast because of a personal account written by an English settler named Edward Winslow.

In a letter to relatives, Winslow described a weeklong harvest celebration, followed by three more days of festivities. He noted the Pilgrims met with a new friend, King Massosoit,
accompanied by 90 of his Wampanoag men. The letter describes a friendly sharing of the harvest, a feast with deer, not turkey, although they were native to the area. There was an abundance of food from the sea, pumpkin and fruit, but no potatoes. There was thankfulness.

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Do we ever forget our own Thanksgiving dinners and traditions that transcend generations? As I write this something comes to mind – not of my own family days in Levittown – but when I was a child.

Every year, as I remember, our family had a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner springing from that warm kitchen with the smell of roasting turkey and thyme in the air. I recall the meal was notable for too much food and several hours at the dining room table. We sat as dishes were swept away and leftovers piled up in the kitchen and new smaller plates arrived. Dessert was coming — homemade pies and fresh fruit followed by nuts and nutcrackers. People chattering and nuts cracking, an audible memory.

Thanksgiving Day began in the morning with a long walk on city sidewalks to a wooded area near our home. I recall the crunch and smell of fallen leaves, a young brother or two running, jumping, tossing them in the air. I would collect several colorful ones. . .There was little talk, just the experience. The motivation for these outings, as my Dad repeated every year, was to “work up an appetite.” I think it was to get the rambunctious boys out of the house, I say lovingly.

Make memories of your own, one or two will linger longest. Happy Thanksgiving!