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Gratitude: A Thanksgiving Tradition


Gratitude, Ready, Set, Eat!  

Here it is—the perfect time to bring out gratitude, traditions, and a healthy appetite. Most of all, gratitude. I don’t know when the focus of Thanksgiving became football and, more recently, shopping. This much I do know: my alma mater had a stinking good win over Ohio State a couple of weeks ago! Hail Purdue!

Gratitude comes in many forms.

If you’re already anticipating the feast and family gatherings, it won’t be a long wait. I have a tip for you.

Last year the 13 folks who came to my house for Thanksgiving were given this question to answer during our meal: What teacher have you been most grateful for and why?

It made for some very good conversation. Answer it yourself. Gratitude is a good thing!

Thanksgiving By Any Other Name 

There is no evidence that the 1621 feast was called Thanksgiving, and the event was not repeated for at least a decade, experts say.

It has been celebrated as a federal holiday only since 1863. During the American Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national day of “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens” to be celebrated on the last Thursday in November. 

The original occasion probably had little in common with the all-American holiday recognized today. Venison topped the menu, plus “a healthy selection of fowl and fish and a great store of wild turkeys,” according to the Plymouth leader (and governor of the colony for 33 years), William Bradford. The leader of the Wampanoag people, Massasoit, is said to have contributed five deer to the dinner.

Native Americans

The Wampanoag Indians occupied the land for thousands of years. They were key to the survival of the Pilgrim colonists during that first year after they arrived at Cape Cod on November 11, 1620.

Early European colonizers and Native Americans lived in peace through a symbiotic relationship for about 10 years until thousands of additional settlers arrived. But the peace was short-lived. The influx of some 25,000 Englishmen between 1630 and 1642 prompted a fight for land. War exploded in 1675. 

Many Native Americans have long marked Thanksgiving as a day of somber remembrance. One member of the Dineh Nation and the Yankton Dakota Sioux, Jacqueline Keeler who lives in Oregon, observes Thanksgiving with her family. She doesn’t think of it as a national holiday the way the rest of the country does. “Thanksgiving tells a story that is convenient for Americans,” Keeler said. “[But] it’s a celebration of our survival. I recognize it as a chance for my family to come together as survivors, pretty much in defiance.”

Gratitude Through My Windowpane

Past the cattails and pinecones and magnolia leaves, I’m looking out on America. Makes me wonder about the inspiration behind the now traditional day of Thanksgiving. Isn’t it cooperation of two groups of people? Wouldn’t that be a good thing?

Gather and give thanks. Hopefully, your gratitude goes deeper than a winning football team. And here’s a head start for your Thanksgiving feast. It just may very well be the best dish on the table!

Recipe: Bread Pudding with Rum Sauce

  • 12 slices white bread (crust, too)
  • 4 eggs, well beaten
  • 1 1/2 C sugar
  • 1 – 13-oz. can evaporated milk
  • 2 C milk
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/3 C butter, melted
  • 1/2 C raisins
  • 1/2 C coconut

Break bread into pieces and place in a lightly greased 3-quart baking dish. In a bowl, combine beaten eggs with sugar and mix well. Add evaporated milk, milk, nutmeg, cinnamon, and vanilla. Blend well. Stir in melted butter. Sprinkle raisins and coconut over bread pieces in the dish. Pour egg mixture evenly over bread. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-60 minutes.

Rum Sauce

  • 3 Tbsp. flour
  • 3 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 C sugar
  • 1 C whole or skim milk
  • 1 C evaporated milk
  • 3 Tbsp. dark rum

In a medium saucepan, combine flour, butter, and sugar. Gradually add whole milk and evaporated milk, stirring constantly. Cook over medium heat until thick. Remove from heat and stir in rum. Serve hot over bread pudding.


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