Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Thanksgiving Eve (Bob Franke)

On the fourth Thursday in November, Thanksgiving Day, Americans express gratitude for their good fortune. The American Thanksgiving tradition originated with the Pilgrims. As early as 1621, the Puritan colonists of Plymouth, Massachusetts set aside a day of thanks for a bountiful harvest. On October 3, 1789, President George Washington proclaimed the 26th of that November the first national Thanksgiving Day under the Constitution.

On October 3, 1863, in the wake of victory at Gettysburg, President Abraham Lincoln decided to issue a Thanksgiving Proclamation declaring the last Thursday in November national Thanksgiving Day. In 1941 Congress made it official.

On Thanksgiving Day in 1876, The American Intercollegiate Football Association held its first championship game. The sport resembled something of a cross between rugby and modern-day football, but the tradition of playing football on Thanksgiving Day developed with the evolution of the sport itself.

The first Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade was in 1924. In the 1920's many of Macy's department store employees were first-generation immigrants. Proud of their new American heritage, they wanted to celebrate the holiday with the type of festival they loved in Europe. The employees marched from 145 Street down to 34th Street dressed as clowns, sheiks, knights and cowboys. There were floats, professional bands and 25 live animals borrowed from the Central Park Zoo. With an audience of over a quarter of a million people, the parade was a success.

Large helium balloons first appeared in 1927 with Felix the Cat. It became tradition to release the balloons after the parade. The balloons would float for days and the lucky finder could claim a reward at Macy's. In 1933, a student pilot stalled her engine over Jamaica Bay trying to snag a cat balloon, and two tugboats in the East River tore apart a dachshund balloon. After a few more close calls, the practice of releasing the balloons came to an end.

SONG: Thanksgiving Eve by Bob Franke

BOOK: The Thanksgiving Ceremony: New Traditions for America's Family Feast by Edward Bleier

POEM: Thanksgiving by Lynn Ungar

I have been trying to read

the script cut in these hills—
a language carved in the shimmer of stubble
and the solid lines of soil, spoken
in the thud of apples falling
and the rasp of corn stalks finally bare.

The pheasants shout it with a rusty creak
as they gather in the fallen grain,
the blackbirds sing it
over their shoulders in parting,
and gold leaf illuminates the manuscript
where it is written in the trees.

Transcribed onto my human tongue
I believe it might sound like a lullaby,
or the simplest grace at table.
Across the gathering stillness
simply this: "For all that we have received,
dear God, make us truly grateful."

QUOTE: "We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures." ~ Thornton Wilder


  1. Happy Thanksgiving, Susan! Enjoy your favorite holiday!

  2. Hey, M ~

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours as well - we have much to be grateful for, don't we? (rhetorical question... <3 )